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Balcony Blues

Illustration of a bird on its bird house playing a violin with the words

A few days before we went into quarantine, I said to a close friend that for some reason I felt like it was the calm before the storm. Little did I know I would turn out to be right. I didn’t know what to feel or what I should feel when I was notified that we would be quarantining ourselves and continuing the rest of the semester online from our own homes. What I did know was that a lot of the plans we made for the semester would either be postponed or just cancelled entirely. That we may work remotely or not be able to work at all. That we wouldn’t be able to see our friends in school for a long, long time. At the same time, my riddled with a hundred questions. How will this impact our grades? When will get to see each other again? Will things be the same again? How long will this quarantine last? So far, I’ve yet to know a certain answer.

Schooling from home is not foreign to me. I was homeschooled my entire life up until I started going to college. In other words, my entire grade-school and high school education was done from the comfort of my own home. Throughout the first 18 years of my life, I did my arithmetic on the kitchen table, performed my science in the dining room, and read my history on the living room couch – all in my pajamas. My sisters and I were taught with special homeschool curriculums, including ones that had us do online classes with fellow homeschoolers. We were allowed to wake up late – as long as we did the day’s required workload. Things were generally relaxed when I was homeschooled. College? Not so much.

I was a fish out of water during my freshman year of college. I was undeclared, socially awkward and shy, and had very little idea on how to navigate myself through these new waters. It took me time to adjust to the classrooms, early schedules, assignment workload, and overall college regime. Things took a turnaround when I became a Music major in Fall 2019 in my sophomore year. I found myself studying alongside fellow musicians who accepted me and shared my interests and aspirations. Suddenly, I felt free to be myself and to express myself more. I began to become a little more talkative and become more open towards others. I gained more friends and socialized with other classmates. I suddenly had the desire to become more involved; this semester I joined three more music ensembles alongside the university orchestra I was already in. I finally got my first job and started earning my own money for the first time. I was finally growing as a person and establishing my place in society.

Then COVID-19 started infecting the US and our world turned upside down.

At first, I was a little amused when they said that students of all ages would have to continue their education from their homes. Now they would know how it feels to do school from home just as I did. But then when in-person gatherings and concerts were forbidden and cancelled, I felt a part of me got taken away. I’m no longer able to do the one thing that helped me connect with my friends and classmates. This sophomore year was supposed to be my year, the year where I finally make progress and make things happen, all cut short thanks to the virus. I won’t be able to interact with my teachers and classmates, which has helped me learn my lessons better. I won’t be able to hang out with my friends and who knows if any of them would be able to talk to me during quarantine?

However familiar the at-home learning experience is, I’m constantly faced with obstacles. There are days where the even just the presence of my family irritates me. My younger siblings annoy me sometimes and my parents often get in my nerves – I sometimes near the point of screaming at them. But I know if I do, I will only make things worse. I’m losing the motivation to study and do my assignments; I’m having a hard time getting myself out of bed early and getting to a class. It irks me that we have to remain inside as much as possible and handle food with caution however important those things are. Each day emotions rage and toil my heart and soul as I read the news and feel the sting of loneliness for my friends at school. Life has been cancelled and has forced me back to square one – learning from home away from my friends while not going anywhere else.

Quarantine has made me many feel many things: angry, sad, scared, confused…

But it has not made me feel hopeless.

Despite the torrent of emotions I feel every day, I try to keep myself busy and to keep myself hoping. I feel myself go back in time as I attend online classes. Once more I find myself sitting in the living room in front of a laptop for a class; I almost forgot how it felt to have to listen to a lecture through a pair of headphones. I’m back to the days of finishing assignments in my pajamas while eating a snack. Sure, my parents get into my nerves, but they still care for me with homecooked foods, a joke or two, a new movie, and so much more. I play my viola and violin and even record some covers of songs. I pray to God to heal those that are sick and their families and to end the pandemic real soon. I text and talk to my friends constantly through video chat platforms, which relieves some of my loneliness.

Music has been a center of my life and one of my biggest talents. It is a part of me; it is my rescue, my escape, my friend, among many more things. It is the medium through which I pour out my soul and express my sensitive and emotional self. It has helped me gain friends, gain connections, establish my identity, and open doors to various opportunities. Music has shaped my identity and my biggest dream is to use my musical talents in great ways, which was what lead me to become a Music Major. Every rehearsal, every concert, and every performance brings me closer to the people I regard as my music family. While I was very disappointed the virus has taken those things, it didn’t take away our music. I’m still alive and I still can make music for myself and with my friends, even if it’s not in person.

The days have been really stormy indeed. Lord only knows when this pandemic will end and we can see our families and friends again, but in the meantime, I’m going to stay optimistic, keep hoping for brighter days, and keep singing above the thunder.