Fri | Jul 30, 2021
YOUTH CONVERSATIONS

Mark Tulloch | My COVID-19 memoir – Part I

Published:Sunday | May 2, 2021 | 12:12 AM

This is my memoir about COVID-19 and my experiences. The memoir talks about what happened before COVID-19, and then in the middle of the memoir, I compare the differences. This memoir also gives different experiences of people around me and the media. It gives a general idea of what COVID-19 was like for me and the surrounding perspectives.

CHAPTER 1 – PRE-APOCALYPSE

It all started when I was visiting my dad in New York in December 2019. On New Year’s Eve, my dad, my mom, and I went to go visit my father’s childhood friend Burkes in Pennsylvania. It was somewhat of a long drive. I saw lots of bridges, and we went under tunnels, so all in all, it was s good experience for me. We eventually reached, and we went inside to Burkes’ house as quickly as we could because it was freezing, but the house was not as warm as we thought it would be. We took off our jackets and we were greeted by Burkes himself. He did a little handshake greeting with my Dad and hugged my mom. When it came to me, I shook his hand. He started to laugh as some memories came to his mind. He then said, “I know you from when you were a baby”, like every family member says when you see them at a cookout or reunion.

I immediately settled down and sat on their living room floor. The “Ball-Drop Performances” was on TV. This programme led up to the start of 2021. My mom sat on the couch beside Burkes’ wife, and they started talking. My dad stayed in the kitchen with Burkes, and I guess they started talking about soccer or something. After around 20 minutes, my dad asked me if I wanted to go with him and Burkes to play soccer. I thought to myself, “Do I want to go with them, or do I want to stay here in this boring house watching the performances leading up to the ball-drop event on TV?” This was a hard decision for me as my favourite artiste, Post Malone, was performing, but I decided to go with them as I could watch his performance on YouTube the next day.

The drive wasn’t far – it was around 20 minutes – and we parked outside of a college’s indoor sports area. My dad told me to hop out. I got out and stood on the sidewalk, waiting for them to get out of the vehicle. Burkes said “Grab the two balls out of the trunk.” I went to the rear of the SUV. I looked in the trunk and found a lot of junk, but to the corner were two soccer balls that looked like they were overused as their designs and patterns had faded. I grabbed the two balls, walking with them under my arm as I tried to catch up with my Dad and Burkes.

Looking back at this day, it was so much fun. There was a lot of contact among the older men playing soccer. People were breathing on each other. They high-fived and slapped hands when they scored and when the game was over. “Great memories, great memories”, I think to myself now.

CHAPTER 2 – THE DAYS OF RECKONING

Fast-forward. It is now Thursday, March 12, 2021. It had been a regular school day. Everything was fine. Nothing felt out of place; everything was just usual. It was around mid-day when half of my class went to drama while the other half did music. My teacher had his earphones in his ears and seemed very focused on what he was listening to. I thought to myself “Maybe he is just listening to music to wait while the class gets settled or maybe listening to a horse race. Maybe he had bets”. The class carried on like normal. Sometimes, however, he would pause the class and listen in more attentively to what was playing on his earphones. Five minutes before class ended, he started to rant about the Government and some other stuff. My entire class was confused. Then he told us that the first case of COVID-19 had reached the island.

In my last class of the day (French), we learnt no French that day. Everyone was worried and anxious. I will admit that I was a little scared. People had on makeshift masks like handkerchiefs tied around their faces. Our teacher used the class period to address our concerns and reassure us that everything was going to be all right.

I went back to school the next day. A good amount of the school’s population was wearing masks even though our Government had not given a mandate saying anything about wearing masks. One of my friends, Solae, had on matching black mask and gloves, which I thought was overkill. My friend Myles was selling masks in class, so I said to myself, “It won’t hurt to buy and use one, plus I will fit in with the new meta.”

This day was the last day of school, well, physical school. Sadly, I didn’t know it then; no one did. We got let out from school an hour early. An hour before this, I had read an Instagram post that our prime minister had stated that all schools should be closed, which I thought probably was fake or our school wouldn’t close as I had got used to the “slave”. To my surprise, however, it was true. Our parents had no idea this would happen, so most of them couldn’t change their schedules to pick us up. So we had to wait a lot of extra hours for them to pick us up. I spent endless time playing basketball with my friends. “I made great memories that day”, I think to myself now. At around 4:00 p.m., my friends started to leave, one by one. I thought nothing of it. I gave them no last goodbyes. I thought I would see them next week, but that was not the case.

- Mark Tulloch, is a 14-year-old former student of Campion College and a current student of Cambria Heights Academy in New York. Next week, we continue his journey through the pandemic and how it changed his schooling life. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com