An Ode to 2020
by The Cowl Editor on January 27, 2022
by AJ Worsley ’22
Conspiracies roll around in my mind as I do in my bed. Another night where I cannot fall asleep. I turn on my fan for noise but I am not warm, so I aim it towards the ceiling. There’s something about my bedroom that has never felt so unfamiliar before. My bed. Returning to my bed after a long day of work and school was my daily dose of euphoria that I needed to take me to the next day. Or what about the days where I would go to concerts, wait in line for hours, jump around and scream my head off for a couple more hours, drive home for about another hour. After all those days, seeing my bed meant returning to a safe space. It meant comfort. It meant that I had survived another day. Now, I never want to see my bed again.
Sitting on my bed, I open Netflix and while it loads I look out my window. On one side of the street a man zooms by on his bicycle. Here and then gone. On the other side of the street, I see a woman walking her dog. She is well-kept. Leggings, running shoes, looking down at her Fitbit. She goes on walks regularly, probably even when it’s raining. Her hair is in a ponytail and it swings back and forth like a metronome as she walks pridefully by my house, unaware that I am watching her with envy. Netflix is done loading.
But in all this free time, I was able to scroll through various social media platforms, all of which reminded me to go easy on myself. “You’re only unproductive by the standards of the world we lived in two months ago,” I read on Instagram. “Keep your head up, things aren’t easy right now,” Facebook yelled at me. I quickly became a victim, hostage to my own anger because I finally had the free time I desired and wasted it rewatching television shows I had already seen. At the same time, I had become the villain, because I knew what I was doing, and I knew how it made me feel, and I made no changes to my daily schedule.
But not even a good television show could distract me from the horror. The news became the only piece of media we followed. It screamed at us: “America’s numbers are up. Will school return in the fall? Concert cancellations. Sports cancellations. Bars and clubs and convenience stores shut down. Potential cure? Not for a while! Pandemic is good for the climate crisis! Less emissions!” Better to be overinformed than ignorant, but I’d kill for the bliss.
Another sunrise had occurred, and I had missed it, waiting minutes before my class to wake up. Roll out of bed. Put my glasses on. Take my retainer out of my mouth. Open up a window so that my classmates did not think I was getting my degree from a morgue. Join the call. Pretend I knew what was going on. Leave. Repeat. Most days feel like this. The slightest sound could get stuck in my head. The dullest image would linger in my mind for far too long.
Unfortunately for man, we do not get to pick and choose when pandemics rise and kill thousands of people because the weather is getting nice and it’s becoming harder to stay indoors. Sure, on average, ten to twenty people walk by my house during a fifty-minute lecture, but I was not one of them.
After a long day of Zoom calls, I sit on the porch and watch the sky get darker by the minute. Time goes by, as it does, and soon enough stars fill the sky. I had not seen this many stars in the sky in months. One night prior I remember looking out the window and seeing no stars. But on this night, it was impossible to look at the sky and feel like you were looking at anything less than A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. I mourned the things I had found and rejoiced in the things I had lost.