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March 11, 2020

By Maddie Scott

I haven’t felt very courageous lately.

I’m not sure when this feeling, or really, this lack-of-feeling, began. Maybe it started creeping in at the beginning of this new semester, the word “spring” in Spring 2021 seeming so very far away as the chill of winter only nestled deeper into my bones. Maybe it started the day after Christmas, tears blurring the yellow and black of the road ahead as I left my family behind me once more. Maybe that lack-of-feeling snuck in during my first Zoom class last fall, on that warm day in August that was once thought to mark our return to campus and in-person academia, but instead left me sitting behind a computer screen rather than in front of a lecturer’s podium. Maybe the feeling tiptoed in when I celebrated my 20th birthday in the middle of a shutdown.

Maybe it began on March 11, 2020, when my university told us our spring break had been extended. When I had to pack up my college apartment and go home to a house I didn’t recognize anymore. When my old self ended, and my new one began.

I can’t say that I faced my new existence with courage. There were tears and screams and sleepless nights and so much misdirected anger - so much aimless fear. Everything I had previously expected from my future vanished in the space of a few seconds. In the time it took to read an email. In the time it took to watch a press conference. That missing piece, that lack-of-feeling, didn’t fade away little by little, bit by intangible bit. It just left me. All at once. And I watched it go.

“A piece of me was left behind in March of 2020,

And I don’t think it’s ever coming back.”

Something left me in March of 2020, but something snuck in to take its place. It tiptoed in through the backdoor of my soul while I wasn’t looking, hiding in the darkest corners of my heart so I wouldn’t notice it. Waiting. Watching. It watched as I fell apart, each screaming match with the mirror and shout into the sky creating another fissure, another hole. I didn’t want to be where I was, I didn’t want to be who I was, I didn’t want to live in the world I lived in, I wanted to go back.

It watched as, months later, I began to pick up my own pieces. It watched as I covered the blank walls of my temporary home until I recognized them once more. It watched as I forgot what I wanted to go back to, as the “new normal” just became normal, as the days blurred into weeks, into months, into almost a year. It watched as the pieces of me began to fit back into place, each one a little harder and sharper than it was before.

It watched as I put myself back together. And when I reached for the last puzzle piece of my heart and found nothing, hands coming up empty, it crept out of its hiding spot and slipped into its place. A perfectly imperfect fit.

I lost a piece of myself in March of 2020.

Something different came back.

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