by Jessica Joshi
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been spending most of your time in your house.
Mine happens to be 0.4 miles south of home.
These days, home is filled with empty desks in empty classrooms. Home is the place that reminds us of the neglected traditions of this year. Home is missing its family, and I am missing home.
The edict of “sheltering in place” carries my restless legs on walks (so many walks) around my neighborhood when I need to rescue my eyes from blinking at the Haiku cat for the sixth time in an hour. The most convenient route is a mile-long loop around the block that contains both the Joshi residence and St. Mary’s. I leave behind a home that now functions as a school and pass by a school that has become my home — the irony is not lost on me.
On one of my walks, I noticed that the St. Mary’s lawn is now covered in a blanket of white petals shaken from the trees. The cherry blossoms are blooming again; against the dark classrooms and empty halls, they serve as the only signs of life on the corner of Perkins Extended and Walnut Grove. In the midst of the pandemic, we have forgotten that it’s springtime again: a season that celebrates life in a time that seems to be filled with anything but.
A little homesick, I continue my journey down the sidewalk and sit at a desk filled with heavy textbooks and a to-do list. But I also open a junior class GroupMe filled with optimism and sweet messages of encouragement. I return to Google Hangouts with teachers who want to “check in” out of genuine care for their students. I return to a Haiku announcement that has a video of a beloved hymn.
There are signs of life behind the glass of my computer screen. Every morning, I check my attendance and join a family that is separated by distance but also that is so wonderfully alive. The students and faculty are choosing connection beyond the uncertainty. I take pride in the St. Mary’s community that shares uplifting messages and shows genuine concern for its members.
Social distancing, welcome or not, is a part of our lives for the time being. It requires complete separation from schools, churches, our favorite coffee shops and life as we knew it. We are in a season that requires disappointment and sacrifice, and those are all that will be left if we lose sight of the lessons we learned at the corner of Perkins Extended and Walnut Grove. In the midst of this pandemic, we must become the light and life that are pillars of our identity as a community. We may have left our school’s brick walls, but I cannot believe for a second that St. Mary’s will ever leave us.
Beyond the empty classrooms, the cherry blossoms are blooming again. They will not wait for life to return to “normal” again.
Neither should we.