It’s just different

My first week of distance learning as a high school senior

Senior Madison Geering working on her laptop during the first week of distance learning. BVH started the school year virtually Monday, Aug. 3.

Madison Geering

Senior Madison Geering working on her laptop during the first week of distance learning. BVH started the school year virtually Monday, Aug. 3.

Madison Geering, Editor-in-Chief

I remember it like it was yesterday. 

Clouds rolled over Bonita Vista High as I raced to Room 202, the Crusader’s newsroom, with Valentina DuPond, who graduated last school year as my co-Editor-in-Chief, at my side. As student journalists, the news we had just heard filled us simultaneously with a nervous disbelief and sense of duty. 

Minutes before the school shutdown was announced over the loudspeaker on March 13, a teacher had told us what would be happening. As we navigated the campus, we rambled on about how surreal the whole situation was and how we felt as if we were in a dystopian novel.

I saw friends and fellow students file into their seats with the usual bustle — dragging their Lenovo laptops to their desks, shouting questions across the room to our advisor, catching up on the latest news in the corner of the room — and I stood firmly by the door, ready for another day in the newsroom.

I didn’t know it could be the last.

Over the past few months, the distance placed between me and the rest of the human race has felt insurmountable, as I’m sure it has for many others. I’m just sitting at home, but I feel as if I’m floating aimlessly away from everything I used to call “normal.” You would think that Zoom calls and online classrooms would make connectivity stronger between us all.

But, in isolation, even my next door neighbor becomes a stranger.

In this time, I have come to truly believe that the reason why people are willing to risk their health to see each other is because humans need one another. We are social creatures. We crave connection. 

And unsafe practices are not something to promote in a pandemic. However, it has given me some interesting food for thought during my time alone. 

I need my friends and family the way that many individuals do. While we pretend that our starvation for connection is staved by the crackling audio and blurry camera lenses of our screens, I think that we’ve been lying to ourselves.

A phone call or video chat is not enough. A text is not enough. A “like” on social media is not enough.

None of it is enough to satisfy the innate need we have for each other: for togetherness.

To be in the same room as someone is a unique magic. Only then can you feel full-belly laughter swell into the air. The smiling sparkle and squinted corners of our eyes can’t be captured through our camera lenses.

This week, I’ve been lonely in a way people weren’t meant to be lonely. I miss seeing my classmates furrow their brow as they ponder a question posed to us. I miss hearing hushed conversations from the back corner of the classroom. I miss the telepathic glance I could send my best friend from across the room.

It is often said that the internet and social media bring us closer together, but I have never felt further away. Connectivity is not genuine through our computers. It’s just different. Teachers can’t send sympathetic glances to students falling asleep on their desk after another late night of studying. They can’t even see our faces most of the time. 

We are a sea of initials in a virtual void.

The first week of school was both good and bad. There’s time for me to finish my work between classes, but I sit in front of my computer for hours on end. I can see my little brother during lunch, but I never see my friends. I wake up at a reasonable hour, but on sleepless nights I can’t shake the overwhelming reality that we are all living in right now.

A year ago, I never would have imagined a senior year like this. I always assumed that I was going to have my last first day on campus: catching up with classmates during the passing period, greeting past teachers in the hallway and speaking to my tablemates before class started.

Our campus facilities leave a lot to be desired, but I always loved hearing the late summer rain outside our classrooms. And after it stops, I love the annoyingly large puddles that form in the quad area. I’ve never thought about it before, but there was something special about the way we all dodged each other in the halls as we ducked for cover from the rain and maneuvered around the puddles.

Junior year was my last year of late summer rain, and I didn’t even know it.

I took it for granted. We all took it for granted: simply being with each other. I would give anything to undo the hurt of the past couple months, to undo the suffering and to live our lives as we expected them to be. However, none of us possess such a power. All we can do is value the human contact we make when we can finally see each others’ faces again unmasked.

It was the simple connections that I made in a school day that provided me with so much fulfillment and happiness. It pains me to have started a year without them. I know that it’s necessary; we must make sacrifices to maintain the health of ourselves and others.

But on the day that I see my classmates face to face, I know that a deeply human part of me will click back into place.