Looking around as I stepped on the yard for the first time since last year was immensely different. My eyes met crowds of unrecognizable people, all hidden under the refuge of their masks. Memories flooded my mind of the sadness I had felt dropping my sister off last summer on I-day at the very spot where I stood.
My sister, Elizabeth, attends the Naval Academy in Annapolis. This year she is a rising third class, and was finally called back to the academy to return from her six-month absence. The months she had been home were a blessing to my family and I; we were able to spend valuable time with her thanks to corona. Elizabeth and I had rekindled the bond of friendship that had faded during her last year at school. But I selfishly could not shake my feeling of sorrow, for I knew I would not see her again until Christmas break.
My family and I traveled to Annapolis to help her move her boxes from the storage area, maintaining 6-feet from every other family at the Naval Academy. We lugged box after box into our minivan, trying our hardest to not damage her personal belongings. As we were loading our van, I kept thinking about how much COVID has changed our society. Last year, my family and I were engulfed by a crowd of people, touching shoulder-to-shoulder as we all intensely watching the midshipmen march back into Bancroft Hall. This year, we were standing in our isolated bubble watching secluded midshipmen walking by themselves.
We drove over to the barracks Elizabeth would be staying in this semester and, due to social distancing, we could not help her move her things up to the room. Instead, we could only offer our moral support. When she had no boxes left to cart up, we said our goodbyes. I hugged her as tight as I could, and we promised to call each other every night, despite the busy month lying ahead of us. As we left, I realized how lucky I was to have my sister, my lifelong best friend. I could dwell on the fact that my sister had to return to school, but instead I am choosing to cling to the positives and the close-knit bond that has bloomed out of our quarantine together.