The past week or two have been, for lack of a better way to say it, alarming. Seemingly out of the blue, COVID-19 has sprung up once again. Although its presence has always lurked on campus, it seemed like a distant nightmare—in the first weeks of school cases were extremely low, and it seemed as if they would remain that way.
However, the second wave has hit, proving that COVID-19, like a creature in the night, is not something that is ever just going to “go away.” It is going to lurk, and wait, and return, and recede, and then do it all again.
Like an unpredictable and witty chess partner, or a predator lurking its prey, COVID-19 will always be one step ahead. The bottom line is that until we finally find a vaccination or cure that really works, COVID-19 is here to stay. And even then, who knows what the long-lasting impact of the pandemic will be?
I, just like many other college students, forgot for a second what a serious threat COVID-19 posed. For the most part, everyone at BU was following the rules. People wore masks, were socially distanced, and did their part. The small portion of people who didn’t saw consequences, or at least didn’t seem to be adding to any trouble. It was easy to forget the fear, the danger, and the seriousness of the disease. It sounds silly, but when you want life to go back to normal so badly and it almost feels like it is, you choose to believe that things are fine. They have to be fine.
Unfortunately, they are not fine, and that has been demonstrated to us these past two weeks by the sudden and jolting uptick in COVID-19 cases at BU, in Boston and Massachusetts, and overall in the United States. The disease crept upon us once more the second we made the decision to be blissfully ignorant, to relax, to believe that things were safe again.
Life now has to return to what it was before at the beginning of the pandemic, strict and tight, with no room for mistakes, and certainly none for freedom. Guidelines at BU have grown stricter to try to tackle the adversary at hand.
But as time rolls by, cases continue to increase in ways that seem to make no sense, and symptoms that vary radically from person to person, it simply makes one wonder: what is really going on?
Don’t get me wrong, I have found ways to enjoy college during COVID-19. There are parts of my experience this year that I will never forget, and have taught me about who I am, want to be, and what I value in life and relationships. For that, I am thankful. However, there is something radically different in the air, and I am afraid that feeling is not going to disappear anytime soon. COVID-19 has already done enough damage to change our lives forever, no matter when a cure or vaccination arrives.
We will never forget this experience, this life we are now living—because we are simply existing in a completely different way. We are in survival mode. This pandemic means stripping down to the bones of life and choosing to realize what’s really important to us, because that’s all we have now.
The memories of what once was are slowly slipping away from me, and it terrifies me. Now, when I watch movies and television, I get confused when I see characters unmasked, not distanced, touching, together.