By Maria Rodriguez
I gasped for air before covering my face. Once more the sweet smell of wet grass made me wonder when I would ever be able to experience the world with my senses alone —the world I was born into. I would sometimes imagine myself as an astronaut in space whenever I go out. It wasn’t the discovery of extraterrestrial life forms nor the interest in other planets (I simply can’t survive in an environment dominated by book-smarts) that coaxed me, but the desire to simply experience space (floating in the air, being awake with my hair standing-up, etc).
At present, everything seems so foreign and different after being stranded in this lockdown world for more than a year. Year 2020 was the year I became an astronaut in the imaginary world I immerse myself in. Before going out, I would have to put on my “COVID-19 Edition EMU” (Extravehicular Mobility Unit) then board my “earthly shuttle” to reach my destination (like the drive-thru) and complete my “mission” —which is to satisfy my food cravings and see the “outside world” to maintain my sanity and sense of pre-pandemic normalcy. For I am isolated and restricted inside the four corners of my zoom window. I am also left responsible to clean and maintain my “living space” (or as we earthlings call it: our room). Though there are perks to being stuck in this lockdown world instead of outer space —- I still can occasionally satisfy my inner shopaholic and my seemingly never-ending metabolic black hole. As a teenager, I’ve been exploring my emotional universe: Finding stars (hope), exploring planets (new feelings and unfamiliar emotions), getting sucked into a black hole (loss of hope), and the occasional explosion of a super novae (change of perspective and epiphany about life).
While I’m still exploring my emotional universe and discovering its infinities and limits, I still hope this “Pandemic Mission” will come to an end. After all, not all children wanted to be astronauts, and we didn’t sign-up for this.