Suddenly three months have passed, and I am still here, curtains drawn up, letting summer light flood into my room. It contrasts strangely with the fluorescent light bulbs screwed into the ever-spinning ceiling fan—although both are golden, sunlight seems softer, warmer while the fluorescent bulbs are harsher, lonelier. Three months have passed, and I can no longer open my windows in the mornings, letting the spring breeze flow inside. Instead, I have felt the cool breeze transform into something hotter and stuffier, watched as dandelion-yellow spring deepened into burnt-golden summer and the gray rainy season gave away to cotton candy clouds across a blue sky.
Three months have passed, and I still don’t know when things will return to normal. Instead, this is my new normal. Social media is a whirlwind, conflicting sources, tragedy and loss plastered all over the headlines. My father watches the news and recites numbers and statistics to me, and I add them to an ever-growing database in my head. I get used to the fabric of a mask against my skin and become familiar with the six-feet distance I share with others. I miss seeing my friends in person, but I learn to be content with seeing them in pixels through video call.
Three months have passed, and I’ve had time to comb through every inch of my house, examine the crevices, the way the floorboards are slightly warped, the old memorabilia I’ve tucked away in the attic. My mother says I’ve always been one to pay attention to the details, meticulous in my searches, but even for someone like me, there are only so many details that you can comb through again, again, again. You can’t see the forest for the trees, but after you’ve examined every inflection in the trunk, the bumps and nicks of the branches, you’ll eventually see the forest for the first time.
Three months have passed, and I’ve learned (or relearned, rather) to bike. I’m lucky that there is a forest within biking distance. When I am biking, I am moving too fast to see the details, to inspect every leaf. Instead, I am forced to focus on the fleeting things: the way that the trees blur as I ride past them, dappled sunlight flickering in and out of the trees, birdsong fading in the distance. Nature’s beauty comes to me not in small details, but in full pictures, panoramic views. I see wildflower fields, quiet lakes, rustling woods. I braid crowns of wildflowers to rest upon my head and fly kites in the wind—it’s like I’ve learned how to be a child again, find joy in the small things.
Three months have passed, and with school cancelled and infinite minutes to fill my hands, I learn to take control of my own life, choose my own paths. I fill my days with things I’ve never had time for before: origami, language learning, even writing. There is something relaxing and rewarding in folding a crisp mountain fold, recognizing the rounded syllables of Korean, typing away at a computer screen, weaving my thoughts into stories. I decide to learn programming, film history, indulging myself in my interests. I learn how to take care of myself and enjoy the quietness of my own company. My days are wide open, and I fill them with fleeting joys and quiet comforts.
Three months have passed, and it’s likely I’ll watch it become four months, five months, six months from my bedroom window. Perhaps I’ll see burnt-golden summer become vermillion autumn and feel a chill enter the breeze. In that time, my golden fluorescent lights will remain, and I will still be here. Three months have passed, and when four, five, six months still have not returned this world to normal, I will still be filling my days with simple joys because I can do nothing else. When the world is turned upside down, I do the only thing I know how to do: make the best of it.