The Chronicles of QuaranTeen
My name is Hadley, and I’m fourteen years old. I live in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where my dad is the Chief of Staff of the 82nd Airborne Division. I’ve lived here for two years, and I’ll be moving over the summer. I go to Albritton Middle School, where I was the Yearbook Editor and became the president of the National Junior Honor Society. I played volleyball and was a track manager. The coronavirus put all of that and so much more on hold.
It didn’t seem like the pandemic was such a big deal when we were only hearing about it on the news, but then our school canceled all the spring sports. Since DODEA isn’t part of the North Carolina School District, they couldn’t tell us to shut down like they could with the rest of the schools. But it was only a matter of time. After the sports were canceled, we started taking COVID-19 more seriously. School was canceled a short time later. Our poor teachers received the notice right when we did, so they had exactly 24 hours to come up with two weeks' worth of lesson plans. We went back to school for a half-day to grab our stuff and get information from the teachers. We didn’t even bother to say goodbye to each other, because we thought we'd be seeing each other in two weeks. The first day of homeschooling was fun until we realized that we had to do actual work. For the first two weeks I did my work on time, even if it meant that I was working until 3 or 4 o’clock without taking a single break, even for lunch. After two weeks, however, and still no word on when we would go back to school, I got tired. One thing I hate is uncertainty. I should be used to it because my family never really knows where we are going to live until we’re there, but I hate it. Right now, the only answers I can get from people are “I don’t know,” “maybe,” and“I’m not sure.” It’s the most infuriating thing in the world.
At the beginning of homeschooling, my mother sat us down with a cheerful attitude and tried to make a schedule with us. We complied, but it kind of fell apart over week four of quarantine. At this point, we were all grouchy and moody. My 14th birthday was coming up, and we were supposed to fly to Arizona to visit my grandparents. We had all kinds of fun things planned out, and I was still hopeful about going. A couple of weeks before we were supposed to leave, my dad tried to break it to me that we wouldn’t be able to go. It was really hard for me to hear, and I responded poorly. I’m not usually the crying type, but I did that day. I started to make a journal about my experiences, and I felt better after a while. We planned a virtual birthday party, which wasn’t terrible. We were all still hoping for a return to school, but it was looking pretty bleak. Soon we received official word. We would not be going back. My sister was pretty crushed by this because she tries to be an optimist. It took a lot of baking and puzzles to cheer her up. At this point, the schoolwork was getting pretty intense for me, so I didn’t have a lot of free time. We were all losing hope, and we didn’t know when quarantine would end.
Now it’s something like week 10 of quarantine, and the workload is easing up slightly as the end of the school year comes up. I am disappointed about everything I have missed during this terrible period in my life. My volleyball team was supposed to go to the Regional Championships, but it was canceled. My sister had finally perfected her straddle dismount on bars that she was going to do at her National Gymnastics Meet, but it was canceled. My birthday trip, our Spring Dance, and our end of school party were all canceled. It makes me feel really bad for myself.
But then I think about high school seniors, and their graduation and prom, which have been canceled or postponed. I think about the people who were supposed to get married, and had to do it alone or virtually. Then, I think about people that live in an area without a hospital and people who don’t have access to clean food, water, or medicine. I see myself as fortunate because I have a roof over my head and food to eat. I have a family who loves me, even if we are fed up with each other at the moment. It makes me wonder how this virus is affecting other military families. For us, our move date was pushed back by a month, and my dad isn’t allowed to leave the state. My friend was supposed to move overseas, but there is still no word on when it will happen. I know that for me, it is difficult to stay cooped up in my house, and I can imagine that other military teens feel that way too. For people who have lived in so many places, sometimes we convince ourselves that we would rather stay in one place our whole lives than move around. But it’s times like these when we realize how lucky we have been to be exposed to different cultures, lifestyles, and landscapes. To gain the skills we will need as adults, like having the grit to walk up to someone you have never met before and introduce yourself. We are all so lucky to be military brats.