I feel like I’ve aged a lot in the past week. I’ve been swept by scary news around my family, almost-homelessness in a country 8,000 miles away, my loved ones back in Manila in lockdown in a state that has essentially imposed martial law, the loss of life-changing opportunities that I had thought beckoned the fight and narrative of why I chose to come to America, and so much more.
Turning 20 in the midst of a global pandemic, I write to you from a dormitory in my campus, now more still than ever. For every student who talks about how New Haven is boring (or worse, scary) is always so mistaken. There are no cars on the street in the dead of night, no lights in the Saybrook courtyard anymore, I am the sound of what is left.
Time right now is not difficult because social distancing it’s hard. It’s difficult because my brain is scrambling for the sense of normalcy prior, even if it were a disjoint existence. We’ll see more of this in the coming weeks, but the impacts of a societal and economic collapse will live on with us forever.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, basically. At one moment I’m chuckling about a quarantine joke about never having been loved in 21 years. In the next, I’m furious about someone’s shitty mockup of a “Zoom University” hoodie that they plan to sell for 17 dollars each to be printed on the cheapest online supplier over a Yale Blue Gildan. I am distant from my family (part in choice, part of necessity), and thinking about why I must live in this day and age and time.
I cried even harder when opportunity was taken away from me. I write gentle thank you’s and then become rough on myself for still seemingly knowing nothing. I am my worst enemy. I sleep for 18 hours one day and then 30 minutes the next. I am pining for perfection and self-destruction, simultaneously. I share another document containing links to help the impacted that only 1% of people will actually click. I recede and play Plague Inc. and name my disease “Furry” and wonder if my Car Seat Headrest tickets will be refunded. I wave at the shut-off shower lights as I stand in the hottest water at midnight, I sing in the suite and cry on the floor–surrounded by open, filled luggages ready to let me go at any moment.
I can’t create right now. I cannot think about product and conversions and how to ease churn rates. I cannot think about anything but empathy. People I look up to are having their jobs taken away; I tell acquaintances who don’t give a fuck whether I come out of this with something or not that an offer was cancelled; I tell myself that everything given to me has been deserved.
What I’m saying is that there is so much more at stake in the world that so misshapen. I understand, but I remain angry at myself. I’m angry not because something was taken away, but because right now–this mid-March–my heart is with the student at threat of violence the next week, pouring their life into a 30-day-trial UHaul truck. My heart is with Luzon facing a militant, uncaring government that like the United States, ignored warning signs and acted too late––after just facing a volcanic explosion. I have thrusted my fist into the heart, pounding for some sense of normalcy so I can care again and become part of the system: but it’s not something for today.