Foreclosed LED Screens


Rosabella Debty

“You don’t get to mourn; you are making history.”

A mantra spewed from underlined lips to me, a mourner. A mourner of milestones so romanticized that choosing not to participate was romantic itself. Key word: choose.

Most remember what that last day felt like, the last day of normalcy. Mine was in a rundown back-parking lot of my high school, sitting on the lukewarm asphalt and deciding if the move was Dunkin’ Donuts or Burger Boy. My friend next to me, savoring their moments of friendship before going to the home that refused them that right. My friend sat across from me, flaming hair from their quarterly dye job. My friend running away because I wanted a photo; I got a photo of them anyway. We joked that we’d love a week off, fueled by senioritis and pollen.

Mine ended at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, March 13, shopping at Lowes for spring plants.

Ask me in 20 years if I still have a pit in my stomach at graduation season; at prom season; senior trip season; orientation season. Don’t ask me today, for I will say I do.

It’s been two and a half years, and still COVID looms over us. I find myself saying, “At least your last year is in person.” I find myself dreading winter, when germs siege our breath and choke us in the night, because I’ve had three winters of “We have to switch to remote.”

 I’m reaching the end of my undergraduate career, reaching the graduation I am still promised in person. And within my last year, the incoming freshman received all that was stripped from me — from my fellow class. I work on campus, and have to explain to students just like me that our gifts are for freshmen, our programs are for freshmen, and our department. Is. For. Freshmen. The loans you took out to pay for RIMAC, York Hall, Geisel Library, Canyon Vista, weren’t set aside for when you could actually use them. And that thought enrages me in a way that feels petty. I paid for an in-person education and got a foreclosed LED screen. I paid to hear, “Times are tough for everyone right now.” 

It grows inside me, this anger with deep, Kudzu roots. I only taste the frustrating dirt when I remember its existence, a collection of shame for my anger, and anger for my shame. I do get to mourn. I get to be upset at the friendships I might have made had there been three years to make them. I get to be upset that they threw me into this situation, and now have ripped me from my cradle just as I snuggled into my dusty blanket. 

But I’m nothing if not persistent. I’ve stressed every outlet and rubbed every fabric threadbare, made friends, made strangers, and in eight short months, I will be one degree heavier. I am grateful for this last year, some solace in the normalcy and in the fifteen minute walks turned into ten. I can’t let this fester and settle, or it’ll soon tangle weeds into my stomach, around my lungs, braided through my ribcage. How does one maintain a garden when it’s introduced to invasion? Can both new and old coexist, and when does the new become the now?

Ask me in 20 years.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels