August's Summer Leaves

Well, it’s official: the autumn semester has begun and instruction has started again. I’ve been fortunate enough to (almost) have an extra week of summer vacation since all but one of my classes cancelled this week. The first week is totally remote to give students more last-minute time to move and get settled in due to the housing crisis, and I guess most professors and lecturers just decided not to bother with the struggles of Zoom and to instead just give students a break until in-person instruction starts next week.

I just finished moving into my new place last Monday. I was fortunate enough to find a place just in the nick of time, but I know that many others cannot say that they were as fortunate as I was and they’re staying in Airbnbs, hotels, or couch crashing. My thoughts extend to those in less fortunate circumstances, and I hope that those individuals can eventually get out of that ditch. We spent a lot of time moving and I have a feeling that we’re going to continue slowly settling in as the weeks move on. I’m happy with our new home and neighborhood and I’m a lot happier being closer to campus than before.

The feeling of acknowledging that we’re going to be back in an in-person environment next week feels… surreal. We lived through world history. We lived through a major global pandemic, political change, social change, and so much more. One way or another, we can be sure of one thing: the world will never be the same again. In the same way that the Black Death changed the world, in the same way that the Great Influenza Epidemic (“Spanish Flu”) changed the world, COVID-19 will make its mark in history.

I remember first hearing about this mysterious disease originating in China way back in the winter of 2019-2020 after we had gotten back from winter break. I remember first hearing about cases popping up all over the world and then in my own hometown, and I remember thinking, “Whoa, that’s too close to home.” There was so much that I did not foresee.

Frankly, I still think that it’s too early to lift the lockdown. With new variants popping up left and right thanks to our society’s reckless and destructive antivaxx culture, I’m not sure if now is the time to open up again. There was a lot that I lived through that I did not initially foresee, and now I am, once again, unsure of the future. Only time will tell.

Soon, the leaves will turn yellow, orange, and red. The thick summer air will step aside and the crisp autumn breeze will take its place. We’ll have people carving pumpkins and having picnics and taking walks by the creeks again. We’ve done a lot of hurting this past year, and now let’s heal – when we’re ready to heal.

Happy trails.