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This time of year brings a flood of countless memories to mind: jumping to Enter Sandman with my closest friends at Hokie football games, sharing enormous turkey legs, being part of a maroon and orange crowd filling Lane Stadium with one goal in mind: winning— with the people we love the most.

I know I’m far from alone when I say that this year, despite its highs, has felt more like losing than winning. It’s been a year of paralyzing fear, isolation, and panic. We’ve spent the majority of it in our homes after being disrupted without warning, torn out of our normal routines, and tossed carelessly into new ones. Weirdly enough, though I’ve had months to myself for self-reflection, personal revelation, and rest… I am beyond exhausted. Nothing feels right or normal, and even though school is in full session, the days still bleed into each other and I’m struggling to find a focal point to steady myself.

I’m a senior now and, crazily enough, I have to remind myself constantly. This isn’t the senior year I envisioned. We were all looking forward to the classic final hurrahs, the final year of college before we all disperse into the real world— some of us to grad school, others to the workforce. We all wanted togetherness. Instead, we got masks, distance, and cancellations. It still doesn’t feel fair, and rightfully so, because it’s not.

I FaceTime my mom multiple nights a week to update her on how it’s all going. Usually, my recaps are all the same. It’s been okay, I’ll say. I’m thinking we won’t last another week with in-person classes. She’ll ask, Have you seen __so and so__? And I’ll reply, No, her roommate tested positive so we’re not going to see her for a while. But it’s fine. We still have Zoom.

Other nights are worse. I miss my family, home, and my friends, even though most of them live just down the street. I can’t tell you, without embarrassing myself, how many times I’ve cried to her, weeping over all of the things we’ve lost. Time is a big one.

But she always has the right answers, like moms always do. It’s all gonna be okay.

And when I think hard about it, she couldn’t be more right.

I know it’s not what we wanted.

But we have what we have: midnight baking, Zoom calls with pals, the great outdoors. The new normal looks like my boyfriend and I traversing the back roads, discovering new getaways on foot and taking cheesy pictures when we find somewhere particularly gorgeous. It looks like “home-gating,” staying in our safe pod of friends and watching games together with homemade snacks and school spirit. It looks like keeping life alive: jumping for joy when I have enough energy to, letting myself cry when it gets a little too overwhelming, and reminding myself that it’s perfectly acceptable to take things a little slower than usual. 

But when I can, I’m gonna keep jumping, 

and I hope you do too.

Michelle Garcia

Virginia Tech '21

Michelle Garcia (she/her) is a Filipino American poet and multimedia artist. Her writing attempts to blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction: focusing on nostalgia and personal mythology— the way we tell stories about ourselves. She is a third-year senior at Virginia Tech triple-majoring in English Literature & Language, Creative Writing, and Communication Science & Social Inquiry.
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