[April 14th, 2020]
It’s 4:14 am. I’m sitting in bed, laughing by myself at programming memes on codehub. My room is dimly lit with my twinkle lights and I occasionally guilt myself into putting my phone down long enough to actually work on my Computation Systems lab due in two days that I am only just about halfway through. Life doesn’t even feel real anymore. Case in point: at this very moment, snow is falling from the sky. It’s late April- didn’t the planet get the memo? It’s officially spring. But then again, time is no longer an actual concept. I sleep- I wake up- I code- I meme- I video call with my brother or parents or friends- and I go back to bed.
Unless you have been hiding out under a rock for the past few months and only just came out to read my blog, you know it’s been kind of weird lately. Life was cancelled, people are scared and we aren’t sure when things are going to get back to normal again. I was lucky enough to get a housing exception from MIT which meant I have housing at least till the end of the semester, so I didn’t have to make my way back to Nairobi amidst these very uncertain conditions.
I could sit here and write until I’m blue in the face about how much I miss how normal things were before. Before, when we didn’t even know that we were actually living a countdown to a time when our lives would flip almost without warning. I could write about how much I miss my friends- the ones who replenish my soul and speak to my heart, who prop me up when I’m fading out and who turn the little windy thing in my back to give me more life- the ones who challenge my thinking, call me out on my bs and set the bar high for what I should aspire to be- the ones who patiently unwind my whining when I’m complaining and come up with a solution to work through even the most impossible-looking scenarios- the ones who gift me with their presence, plain and simple, whenever I need it. I could write about how much I long for the usual hustle and bustle of MIT operating at full strength- the pace of an academic workday, the passion you can feel surging past in the crowds of students making their way through classes, the pressure to beat deadlines reflected on passing faces. I could write about how I long for another chance to buy a five-dollar boba at lobby 10 for lunch, or pound the vending machine under building 66 to coax out that dangling snickers bar, or listen to Jason Ku talk about linked lists in a packed lecture hall.
But, as I sit here, I realize how lucky I am, that my biggest complaint is an interruption to what was otherwise a meticulously planned out year. Even as I am validated to feel incomplete, there are far more pressing issues right now than a sophomore wishing she could have one more stroll across the Harvard Bridge with her friends. My heart goes out to the healthcare workers who are witnessing horrors I can only imagine, service workers and essential personnel who are sustaining us at personal risk, and their families. My heart breaks for those who have lost people to the virus, or who have sick loved ones.
Who thought we would make it this far huh! My early-quarantine self was scared and anxious, and rightly so. Looking back, I’m surprised- and proud- of how much that has been thrown my way that I’ve taken in stride and rode out. I did a remote UROP over the summer at a lab I have been longing to join for a long time, and I learnt so much from that- I pulled through an exhausting fully-remote fall semester and actually managed to learn things through a different-but-still-unique MIT experience- I found a new community to live with and still got some stolen moments to grab socially-distanced coffee with old friends. Now, at the brink of a breakthrough with a vaccine for the virus in the offing, it feels like a new day is coming, and I have reason to be optimistic. We survived.