Over the course of the school year, I have complained and whined about my school work. I have fussed as I drove to school and even sobbed pulling into the school gates. Yes, junior year is dreadful. But nothing quite lives up to the week I just experienced. I sincerely apologize to every day before Jan. 4, 2021. I reminisce on those times. Those lovely, enjoyable, pre-COVID-19 times.
It was the first day back from winter break and what did I do? I slept through my alarm. Go me. Off to a great start. I was so glad to have joined my first-hour class six minutes late, using the invalid excuse, “my Wi-Fi is slow.”
While getting settled, I searched and scavenged for my iPad and notes, digging through my untidy and overflowing desk. Simultaneously, my teacher calls on me. Just as I sit back down on my bed, I spill a two-day-old Venti Iced Americano on my lap and watch it slowly sink beneath my bedsheets. No, I didn’t answer the question correctly, and yes, my bed sheets are now permanently stained.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, it most certainly did.
Well, not at first.
I actually woke up to the sound of my alarm clock Tuesday morning. I know, improvement right? I showed up to my second period just on time. This time with a coffee cup in my hand, and not down my shirt.
The day progressed and I felt fine. I was, of course, overwhelmed, but in some sense, it was good to be back. I felt on top of things, I was happy to see the friendly faces of my peers and teachers again. I remember telling myself on the way to my high school soccer game later that night. …
This was my year.
Let’s just say that didn’t go as planned, within the next 35 minutes.
We lost the soccer game, which isn’t much of a shocker — we have yet to win a game. But it didn’t help that every time I was fouled in Tuesday’s game (which happened to be many times) I was falling miserably sore, to the point that I couldn’t walk. It was definitely unusual for my body to be reacting this way. Of course, I thought nothing of it … why would I? I had to get home to a four-page essay and start my math homework.
Yes, I’m sure you gather that I didn’t get either of those assignments done on time. (Fortunately, I have very considerate teachers.)
At home, my body continued to ache. Miserably.
I get a text saying that my friend’s boyfriend tested positive for COVID-19.
My friend who just spent the entire week with her boyfriend before coming to my house? She immediately told me not to worry, assuring me that she would be negative and that I would definitely be too. I vividly remember her telling me that there was “no chance” I had it. I thought the same. I believed her at first. But just to be safe, my parents got me a rapid test that night.
I drove to the testing site alone. It was about 10:45 p.m., and all that was on my mind was AP statistics. Well, I still was very achy and sore from the game. But whatever, that didn’t really faze me.
The cotton swab shot right up my nose, and unlike other times when I would squirm for help, I didn’t even flinch. Would it be gross if I said it felt a little good? Within seconds, the test indicates two horizontal red lines, matching with the “+” figure on the bottom of the test reading “POSITIVE.”
I broke into tears. I was with my grandma last week. What if I had infected her, along with my grandpa who both at high risk? What about my siblings — my younger brother and sister who are going in person to two different schools with different teachers with different students that also have high-risk grandparents. Oh my God. I infected the entirety of Palm Beach County. Thankfully, my grandma tested negative and received the vaccine the next morning. Yet I was instantly overwhelmed with guilt for all the possible people I could have infected. Luckily, everyone in my family tested negative, including my siblings.
So, that basically leads me to the rest of the week.
I’ve done nothing. My fever comes and goes as it pleases, as does my nausea. On Wednesday and Thursday, I don’t think I walked more than 10 feet in my room. I literally slept the majority of both days. I eat dinner on FaceTime with the rest of my family. I watch them share food and laugh, as I taste the bland nothingness of my meal. Oh, by the way — would it be rude for me to say that the loss of taste and smell is the worst part? As selfish as it sounds, it really does suck. I take a whiff of my pumpkin spice candle every morning and pray to God I get something. Nope. Whatever, maybe tomorrow.
In all seriousness, COVID-19 does suck. I hate being in isolation from the outside world, but this is just the time we live in now. I am truly thankful to not have spread this disease to any of my family or friends … I would take losing my taste buds any day over losing a loved one. We’re all getting through this together, in one way or another.
But honestly, can 2021 get any worse than this? Wait …
I better not jinx it.
Sam Cohen, COVID-19 survivor