There was a time, before all this, when we woke up and knew exactly how our day would be; Lecture at nine, tutor at 10:30, lunch in the cafeteria, and the rest of the afternoon off to study for that exam coming up.
We lived our lives through a series of little moments. Moments we never put much thought into but were always there to add to the pavements of our life.
On Saturdays, we would catch an Uber to the city with friends. We would dance until our feet were numb, shout until our throats were sore, and laugh until our stomachs hurt.
On Sundays, we would have the morning to recover and vow never to drink that much again.
On Mondays, we would put our big sunglasses on and trudge our way to the first lecture; head low, feet dragging, and stomachs still queasy.
The week would pass by and on Saturday, we would be right back in that Uber, waiting for the car to drop us off at the next stop.
Before, there was a time when we could count on the predictability of life. Although some thought the cycle to be boring, others thrived on the reliability that tomorrow. A café would be making their coffee, a restaurant would be saving a table for 9:00 pm, and a friend would be waiting outside the lecture hall to catch up before class started.
Now, when we wake up, roll out of bed, turn the laptop on, and open the virtual chat room as we wait for our tutorial to start.
Now, we check, double-check, and check for the hundredth time that our microphones and video cameras are off as we listen to the lecturer.
Now, we face the uncertainty of tomorrow. We worry about numbers climbing, curves flattening, internet connectivity problems, and videos freezing. Phrases like, “Can you see me?” and, “Can you hear me?” have become new predictabilities in life.
We worry about organising group projects with team members across state lines or even other countries.
We stress about making deadlines as we email lecturers to clarify requirements; typing within the same lonely four walls instead of having the simple chats we used to do on campus.
We struggle to find the motivation to do uni work while not physically being at uni.
Our life has been disrupted.
But we cope. We accept that we are living amongst the unpredictability of life as we wade through the murky waters of uncertainty, picking up sources of comfort to get us by.
We cope by reaching out to family when a wave of overwhelming fear engulfs us. We know they will stop us from drowning.
We cope by setting new routines as we navigate the structure of online learning. We make flashcards for tests, update calendars to stay on top of assignments, and keep a tidy desk to reduce a clustered environment and a clustered mind.
We make plans to see friends, if only for a brief moment of interaction, as they walk along the path with us. We find solace in the thought that we do not carry this burden alone.
We check in with our lecturers for support because we know they understand the disruption.
And most importantly, we wait for the fog to lift, for the skies to clear, for the waters to be still once more, and with a little bit more time, it will.
Soon, when this ends, there will come a time again.
A time to shake hands with strangers and hug loved ones.
A time to go to the cinema with friends. To walk down the crowded aisle and see people pull their legs up to let us by. To eat all the popcorn before the opening credits start.
A time to travel. To play songs loudly and shout the lyrics with the person driving. To dance in the confined car and feel the car dance too as it chugs along to the long-awaited destination.
Soon, there will come a time to feel all those little moments again.
A time to feel free.
A time to love.
And a time to live.
But for now, we wait. We listen. We help. Because most of all, we don’t want to harm one another.
While we have so little of each other now, there will come a time when we have more than we had before.
And those little moments will be enough again.