My Story: Rewriting


On March 13, 2020, I was 14 years old.

So young, it seems.

But it was just 670 days ago. It really isn’t that much. And yet, it’s thousands of Zoom calls I’ve joined. 1340 times I’ve brushed my teeth (roughly). 1,474,000 breaths I’ve taken.

On March 13, 2020, I was “just a kid.” That day, I had a volleyball game; Our first one. We were  excited because we thought we were going to win a city championship. We had a strong team that year.

That was the third sport I had participated in that season. I was also planning to play in the last season of the year — enough to get my name up in the gym, up on the “four sport athletes” banner. Every time I took gym in middle school, I would look up and see my sister’s name. Ever since sixth grade, I knew I would have my name up on that banner.

Disappointing that my younger sibling won’t end up seeing my name like I did Eva’s.

I remember how every day in ELA, there would be a word of the day. I would arrive at 8 a.m. and write my own pronunciation guide for the word. It was not necessarily a serious guide, but just something fun for people to enjoy. It was an opportunity for our class to bond, to interact, to do something fun early in the morning. After we went online, I tried to keep that routine intact, writing guides on a whiteboard that I emailed to Mrs. Daniel. My pronunciation guide, unfortunately, didn’t make it past the first week of online learning. 

As it turns out, the interactive part of my guide mattered.

I remember starting high school over Zoom. I was energetic, always turning my camera on. Nervous, excited andfeeling lots of other different emotions all at once.  Freshman year of high school is supposed to be a really amazing experience where you find yourself…right? Unlike Covid-19 cases at the time, my excitement for the new year trailed off, reducing to close to none rather quickly.

I tried playing freshman soccer at Pioneer during the fall of 2020. Soccer had always been my sport. It was what I was best at and loved. It was what I thought I would end up doing. However, I never played travel soccer. As I went to tryouts, eventually making the team and beginning to practice and play, I had some realizations. First, I couldn’t hang on anymore. Any natural talent I had couldn’t compare to years of training religiously. Second, I didn’t know if this sport was really what I wanted to do. I didn’t follow European soccer leagues, I couldn’t juggle more than 5 times without dropping the ball and I didn’t think these were my people. These were soccer players, “soccer guys.” That was not me. I was no longer a soccer guy.

Had the pandemic changed me? 

I kept feeling disappointment, lowered expectations and uncertainty. All of those seemed ever-present in the grand tale of my life.

Every day, I would sit in my room, with rows upon rows of books on white shelves on every side of me. From books intended for young readers to stories of loss and tragedy, I was surrounded by stories. All of these different stories around me, with characters experiencing their own losses and victories.

And yet, it seemed as though I was only concerned with one story: my own. I didn’t have the energy or intent to view the stories of others. 

I stayed at home, with my head down and my body firmly planted in my cocoon of written experiences, with tales of lives not so different from mine. In my room, I did my work, I slept, I played video games and I read. My story was just a single room. No other characters, no other settings, just me sitting alone in my room.

My story was one of disappointment over the last two years. My story was one of sadness. It seemed all of my expectations, everything I enjoyed pre-quarantine, no longer sparked the same joy. 

I was stuck in my room, unable to introduce new characters to my story, to explore. I couldn’t reach out to whoever was writing my story and ask for a plot twist, or at least something to get me out of my string of disappointments. 

My story was so small compared to some. Grandparents lost, small towns ravaged by Covid-19 — all I had to do was stay in my room. So many stories of pain, of suffering, of loss, strife, helplessness. Stories ended abruptly, stories with plot twists too ridiculous and damaging for any novel, even I wouldn’t wish for that.

Unfortunately, it seemed I couldn’t choose how my story went. However I grew, the emotions I felt, my victories and my failures were all something that was no longer in my control.

And yet, as I spent hours every day in my chair, I found myself unable still to make a change. Whoever was writing my story seemed to be very insistent on writing a very mundane and mildly sad story. I kept trying to the best of my ability to reach out, to grasp for some emotion, something to turn the page of my story. Fruitlessly, it seemed as though that was just out of reach. My story, already with a front page and a blurb on the back, was outlined. Perhaps not fully written, but with little to no wiggle room in terms of plot. There had already been critical reviews of my story. It was too repetitive and the main character was disinterested and distant. It was like they were a robot, with no emotions or clear human traits. What were the authors thinking with this? 

Here I was, to complete the story as written in front of me, with thousands of pages behind me and no clear end.

And so I did.

I woke up every day at 7:58, sitting through my classes on Zoom. I trudged my way through the day like a marionette: my strings were pulled, clicking on link after link. 

There was one sport I didn’t end up playing in Middle school. Although I didn’t get much of the way through my volleyball season, I didn’t even start with track. I had done it previously in seventh grade, but I didn’t think as much of it compared to soccer or volleyball.

In forum Zoom calls, I heard of how a few of my forumettes were running track. Max ran cross country and distance, but Sebastian was a sprinter. Intrigued by the idea, I wanted to go out and try it, but I knew how my previous attempts to change the course of my story had gone in the recent past.

I was able to make it out of the house on one fateful day, biking over to Pioneer High School and to the gray shed with many guys who didn’t look familiar, in very short shorts. I didn’t see anyone I recognized, any freshman or people I knew in the past. I approached the man seated on a stationary bike, his eyes shielded by a cap but with gray hairs visible near his ears. I was sweating, surrounded by people I didn’t know as the man slowly looked up, glaring at  me. I said my name aloud as I wrote it down before I was asked a question.

“Did you sign up online?” He uttered. 

No? I didn’t know, quickly calling my parents to see if they had signed me up.

Defeated, I was told to go home, sign up, and come back tomorrow. Nearly in tears, it seems the authors of my story had one more cruel twist in store. My attempt to reach out and begin a new chapter, open a new path for me to divest upon, failed.

I began to walk back to my bike, head down and trying to make it away from the crowd of teenage guys before tears inevitably started to flow. Just before I reached the end, I was stopped by a familiar voice. I looked up to see Max, who immediately jumped to ask what I was doing. As a senior, he was experienced and the perfect person to see in that moment.

He went up to the old man, who was soon revealed to be a Coach Sleeman. He spoke to Sleeman and was able to get him to open up a little more and get me allowed to practice for the day, before telling me about how Coach is rough on newbies.

I ran that day, and then I met Coaches Paige and Bond and the rest of the “sprint unit.” I started running with them on that day in the spring of 2021. It is now mid-january of 2022, and I have been running with them almost every day since. 

Although not perfect or completely like myself before quarantine —it is exceptionally hard to unwrite stories— it seemed that I was able to get lucky this time. I still might not be able to rewrite my story or control everything, I might be able to do something, even if not everything.

It is my story after all, I should have something to do with it even if I can’t control it all of the time.