My Story: The Spark


On March 13, 2020, I was 16 years old. Had I known that this would be the last time I would see my daily routine, many of my friends and my school, I might have stayed longer and savored the moment like a bittersweet taste on my tongue. But instead, I walked out the door like any other day and left with my friends’ goodbyes clear in my head. My backpack tugged at my shoulders, heavy with homework and uncertainty, but I didn’t give either a second thought. After all, I knew we would be back to normal in three weeks.
But like the rest of the world, I was naive. Three weeks swiftly turned into three months, and then into what felt like three years. I took photos, went on walks and solved puzzles, attempting desperately to speed up the days dense with the ticking of the clock. I adapted, ventured and attempted to grow, but my social skills shrunk. I gradually lost touch with the person I was on March 13, 2020, as gracefully and imperceptibly as a fallen leaf touching the surface of a stagnant lake.
But time didn’t stand still forever, and I kept moving forward.
After monotonous weeks of Zoom in my homebound classroom, I became at ease with being alone. I found solace in my solitude, and gained a deeper appreciation for myself that came with distance from distractions. I poured my thoughts into journals, and channeled my mind into art that provided a beautiful and material distraction, but never made me feel truly alive; I was still missing something.
Since that day I stepped out the Community door, I hadn’t truly connected with anyone. As I withdrew from my old self, I neglected the relationships I had spent years, some a lifetime, shaping and growing. Connection was once my superpower, but I forgot my strengths when I let go of the grasp I held on myself.
But eventually, something shifted.
It started with a text from Nora, in October asking if I wanted to go to Barton Dam to watch the sunset with our friend Eli later that evening. That one text spurred an internal, mental war.
The idea of staying home to play piano or make another painting was infinitely appealing, and the thought of going out and interacting with people was too exhausting to entertain. But begrudgingly, I knew that piano and painting was how I had spent most of the last seven months. I knew I had to change my monotonous routine for the better, and that no one else would take my first step for me.
I missed the parts of myself that I had grown apart from.
I wanted to find them again.
In that moment I knew that I would never let my most cherished relationships —my life’s purpose— slip away again. However long the pandemic may last, I would last longer, and thrive from it.
That evening was simple, but deeply meaningful. Eli, Nora and I danced to Katy Perry on rocky train tracks, and sipped bubble tea cupped by cold hands as we watched the sun slip beyond our sight. I took my rhythm from solitude and used it to strengthen the friendships I valued. We shunned the fear that plagued our anxious minds and found love within one another. And I would never have been reminded of that love if I had told Nora “no”.
As the pandemic continues to rage on, nearly two years later, I know how necessary that night was to my well-being. By putting myself back into the company of my friends, I took the best elements of my isolation and used them to save my connections at just the right time. Like crimson embers coaxed to a roaring flame, I rekindled new life in October from a spark of my old self. Although I still find solace in my own company, I now know how to find it in the company of others too.
I’m thankful for learning the value of art, and how it helps me ease into comfort through times of isolation.
I’m thankful for my friends, and the relationships I love.
But most of all, I’m thankful for that spark.