I can remember the last week before the lockdown. I had just celebrated my 19th birthday. I remember it so clearly: being able to order food at a restaurant, grab some cake from the grocery store, and celebrate with my family, all done without the need for a mask. The words “social distancing” were not in my vocabulary, and the only time I used hand sanitizer that day was right after I got out of the restroom at the Student Union. The day after, when I heard that UT Austin and other universities were closing their campus due to the looming COVID-19 Pandemic, my first thought was “Cool! School would be closing, and that means online classes, which means no need to drive to school everyday, my classes would become easier, and I would have more free time!”. I waited for UTD to finally announce they would close, biding my time by looking at all the topical memes, wondering for a moment if UTD really was going to ride out the pandemic with an open campus. Friday comes around, and it’s official: UTD was moving online. Ah, the joy I felt at that time. No need to spend money on gas, no rush to get to classes on time. I had hopes that I could sail through the rest of the semester easily, and finally get some time to catch up on any movies, TV shows, anime, video games, and other fun stuff that I never got around to. The lockdown was gonna be great!

8 months have passed since the lockdown order. My brain is straining to remember if we ever actually got out of that lockdown and we are now going into another or if that first lockdown ever really ended. Is this even a lockdown anymore? Or is this how we’re going to be for the foreseeable future? I remember my naive past self, thinking that we would be out of the lockdown in just two months. That I would be able to enjoy my summer break. When that dream was shattered, I held on to the hope that an end to this would be in sight by december. Now, I’m sitting here seriously considering the possibility that this would go on until next December. It has been so long since I’ve seen my classmates, my friends, my sweet love Temoc. I morbidly laugh at the thought that online classes would somehow be easier. 

They weren’t.

My motivation. my social life. My regular sleep schedule. All but sweet memories. The lecture halls. The skybridge. The overpriced food trucks. The groups of people huddled around the tv’s at the student union playing some fighting game that I had neither the time nor skill to take part in. All taken from me. Was it because I took them for granted that I miss them?

I won’t take them for granted when I come back. When this is all over, If this will all be over, I’ll pay attention during the lectures. I’ll eat the overpriced burgers. I’ll wait in the long line at the Taco Bell Cantina. I’ll show everyone how terrible I am at Guilty Gear. I have no idea how to show my respect for the skybridge other than using it. Which I have been. Correction: Had been.

I’ll do anything. Anything to be back. Anything at all.