As we plunge into Summer, cares seem to float off our shoulders as if we were simply shedding layers of an outfit. The stress of school is minimized or at least put on hold. Busy schedules of clubs, sports, tutoring, and other school-year activities are now nowhere to be found on our calendars. Typically, this is the time of year when that scene in High School Musical occupies our minds, where everyone is tapping their pencil against their desk, staring at the clock, and muttering, "Summer, Summer, Summer," amidst excitement for the first Friday night party and the anticipation to burn all our papers in a bonfire. Throughout our childhood, this was always the time of year, as if it was a biological cycle when serotonin levels soar. And while I, for one, am finding it increasingly difficult to wait for my academic year to come to a close, I can't help but fear what this summer actually means, and what it will bring.
If you are just awaking from a Sleeping Beauty type nap or 6-month long hibernation, welcome back! Secondly, Earth has seen better days. Here's a quick recap of everything us brave souls have endured since the fireworks and ball drop of New Year's: killer bees, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, dying, the threat of World War 3, Australia burning, earthquakes, American cities being lit on fire and ransacked, impeachment, police brutality and protests, a swarming return of cicadas, Tom Hanks got sick, and... hmm, I feel like I'm forgetting something...
Oh yea, there's also a pandemic that has caused whole countries to close, schools to shut down for multiple semesters, millions of Americans to file for unemployment, and so, so many innocent lives to be lost.
With the pandemic still plaguing our society after months of battling its strong grip, how will Summer, precious Summer, be affected? Will I be able to travel? Will amusement and water parks be open? Can I see my friends and cousins? Will I have to wear a suffocating mask in the summer heat? While I would love to be the magical person who can answer these questions for you, who knows what Summer 2020 will look like.
Three weeks ago, it was believed that, at least in many states, normal life could be slowly starting to return. The curve of Coronavirus cases had gone down, businesses were opening back up, and slivers hope could be seen through cracks in the stern stigma of this year. But, 2020 was not going to let us off that easy.
Police brutality was then brought back to the world's focus, possibly with a brighter spotlight than ever before. Petitions flew through the internet, hashtags were created, protesters- of all races and ethnicities- took to the streets, and justice was demanded. Americans were exercising their First Amendment right all across our country, making signs, chants, and art in response to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and the murder of far too many African Americans. And while the heart-breaking, ear-splitting cry for justice could be heard from even the tallest of buildings, COVID-19 had no sympathy.
After months of social-distancing and quarantining, thousands and thousands of Americans find themselves in tight groups, protesting. While many wear masks, we can only expect the curve that we have fought so hard to flatten to inflate back up like a balloon.
But, where does racism stand against the pandemic? Is it better to stay home while injustice plagues the country? Or take to the streets where Coronavirus plagues the world? Do we risk spreading more cases if only our awareness of police brutality can spread with it? As many are saying, 2020 has not one, but two pandemics hurting our country: one that attacks our biology and one that attacks morality.
Will the increasing number of cases that will result from the protesting stall the re-opening of businesses across the country? One hope is that the summer heat can kill enough of the virus to balance out the number of new cases obtained from crowded streets. While it cannot yet be proven, many experts believe that the virus will not survive well in higher temperatures. Like its relative disease, the flu, scientists are hoping that Coronavirus will not fare as well in Summer as it has in Winter. Most diseases, illnesses, and colds occur and flourish in Fall and Winter, hence why we call it "Flu Season."
So, do you think the protests will have an effect on the number of Coronavirus cases? Do you think Summer's heat will deliver a nice kick in the butt to the pandemic? Regardless, if there is one thing I know about military teens, it's that we are resilient. We've dealt with change and loss, and are very well acclimated to adaptation. If Summer doesn't go our way and the water parks don't open and you can't go on your huge Europe trip that you've been planning for months, it will suck, but it's okay. There are other ways to have fun and relax.
Accepting what we lose to this *interesting* year is the first step to having an amazing summer. I doubt one of us can say that we haven't lost one thing that we were looking forward to. And while we mourn the losses, we must also move on if we want to experience fun times.
Adapting to the current situation and finding new, unique, and possibly social-distancing approved ways to have fun may be the trend this Summer. Build an at-home slip 'n slide or go camping! Have water balloon fights and bake cookies with your family. If allowed, see friends! Go for car rides, build something, learn a new skill, or maybe become an activist and fight for justice.
2020 has been one rocky roller coaster of emotions and events. But, school legally cannot last all year, and it's coming to an end very soon. So, there is one thing to look forward to! Maybe states will be open, possibly amusements parks as well. While our country is on the mend, take this time to enjoy your Summer. Among these crazy times, don't forget you are a teenager and allowed to have fun and not carry the worries and stress of the world on your back. If you need to, watch High School Musical to get in that Summer spirit. Summer 2020 may not be the bonfire, Friday night party classic Summer we grew up being used to, but it's still Summer. Enjoy the boost in serotonin ending school brings, be safe, and may this Summer the best it can be!