Those First Days


Arianna Morales

Arianna’s busy desk as described within the narrative; cluttered with all the necessary items she needs for online learning.

 This is it, I thought. The very definition of time will change based on this fact: it’s Junior Year. Summer may be over, but the pandemic isn’t. For now, school is 100 percent online and Zoom is as vital to remote learning as air. 

   It was the day before the first day of school when I relished summer vacation’s final fleeting moments. I layed comfortably next to my sister in our parent’s bedroom watching a popular thriller anime that came on Netflix recently; but eventually that faded too: she went back to college and I would go back to school. It was time to look onward.

   Breathe, I thought. I gently closed the door of my room, walked hastily to my desk and began tidying and organizing my belongings. I double–no, triple checked that everything I needed was ready for that first day of remote learning. I quickly reviewed my summer memories as if I was seeing my life flash before my eyes, searching for a fragment that would make me feel balanced and more at ease, but to no avail. With no other option left, I embraced the uncomfortable and accepted nervousness’ greetings as a part of my daily routine. Nevertheless, this summer was different. Not because the pandemic altered reality, but that despite the chaos, confusion, and uncertainty, I made wonderful memories with family and friends. Uncertainty lied ahead but I felt prepared to give this year everything I had in order to pave my future and craft a better version of myself.

   Tectonic plates were shifting in my mind, and my body began to tremble softly. Five minutes before class. Click the Zoom link. Four minutes. Set up the camera. Three minutes. Two minutes…one. I reassured myself, as long as I didn’t have to show my face, I could make it through the day. 

   I got lucky, I didn’t have to show my face for the first two classes. Slowly but surely, time was passing. Then, luck decided to disappear when my teacher insisted that they couldn’t see my face. Well, of course, my camera was off!  Oh well, there goes that plan, I chuckled to myself. I hastily rearranged my iPad the best I could, and turned on the camera. I was brought back to reality; of course I would have to show my face. This is school after all, it’s expected that you attend class. Zoom is no exception. 

   A veil was lifted. Yikes! My ceiling fan was the equivalent of a fidget spinner, the light was too bright, and my face appeared to be on the dark side of the moon! But the teacher could finally see me. 

   A rush of comfort and peace guided my smile as it passed over me. Suddenly, I felt balanced. I never thought that seeing my own face could make me somehow feel more comfortable. It gave me confidence and hope that I could get through this day and the ones to come. The class made my smile a little brighter that day.

   As more days passed, the nervousness faded to a soft hum as it was overtaken by a hopeful melody. School is fundamentally the same, only the format at which we learned was different. This gave way to limitations, different atmospheres, and new rules; but I still got to see my teacher’s faces and they could see mine. Optimistically, it was already better than the last few months of sophomore year. I’ll remember those first few days as the beginning of a great race: scary, overwhelming and slow; but if I’ve learned anything from running, it’s that pacing yourself is crucial. I’ll be looking forward to the sweet satisfaction of reaching the finish, but I’m also curious as to what I’ll learn along the way and how much I’ll change.