A Year of A Pandemic

It’s nearly been one year since the day the world seemed to break – March 13, 2020. While the coronavirus had been ravaging elsewhere for months, it was on this day that Americans were hit with the seriousness of the virus

One year ago, I was in Oxford having potentially the best year of my life. We were coming up on a six-week break, during which I was still holding onto the hope I would be able to travel around the United Kingdom by the end of the break. At the very least, I was convinced I could wait out the pandemic in Oxford. The thought of returning home permanently was devastating.

Within days that fear became my reality as I booked a last-minute flight when the U.S. started closing its borders. In my last few days in Oxford, I took these pictures desperately trying to hold on to the idyllic life I’d been living.

Pictures from my last few days in Oxford.

After realizing the pandemic was far worse than I thought, I was suddenly whisked away back to the U.S. – maskless – on an over 12-hour journey. In what I now consider a stroke of genius, I took the following hourly selfies during my trip back. Please enjoy the utter depression on display in this gallery.

Photos from every hour of travel back from Oxford to Kansas City.

After arriving home, I completed a two-week quarantine and after that, frankly, I remember next to nothing of the following several months. Something about living through so much turmoil, constant change but also no activity, despair and numbness have warped time. Even this sentiment feels cliche because everyone experienced it.

In reviewing the pictures I took from March to August, I was struck by how few photos I had from the year and how few I had genuinely positive memories about. I’m confident that if I knew how the year would pan out after March 13, I would have been broken. Yet, I also know there were times during the spring and summer of COVID-19 that I remember fondly. I remember walking to Hammerhand, enjoying the sun, working, completing coursework and generally keeping myself as busy as I possibly could.

Pictures throughout the year.

I’m trying to find the silver linings of the year, but, frankly, the more I try to remember the good, the more I just reminisce on pre-pandemic times. I didn’t expect so much of the so-called new normal to feel so truly normal, but I really can’t say I have much positive to say about it all. 

So far, the year just feels like I’ve been stuck in time. After a year of so much growth, sensory overload and independence, this year seemed to transport me back to middle school. I’ve had the chance to pseudo-observe my own growth and I’ve concluded that I am so damn ready to be past the worst of this. It feels as though the entirety of the end of my college experience has been blurred. I wish I had some positive conclusion to this walk down memory lane. I don’t. I’m just sad for all that has been missed, all the lives lost, the senselessness of the year, the unendingness.

Personally, I am ready to move on to the next chapter of my life. I see my graduation and plans to move and go to grad school as an end to all the sameness, stress, anxiety and fatigue. I’m hoping this isn’t just another naive delusion that just keeps me going. 

Pictures from throughout the year.


Catherine Dema

Catherine Dema is the page editor for Features & Investigations on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics.

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