As of April 15, over 75 million Americans, or 23% of the population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If Americans hope to get back to what life was like before March 2020, that percentage needs to exceed 70%, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Whether you are a Georgetown student, part of the community or anyone else, there is no question about it: We all need to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Every night at exactly midnight, I refresh my Snapchat and wait for new memories from years ago to flood my phone. For me, Snapchat memories are arguably the best feature of the platform. Long-forgotten videos of eighth-grade mixers, sophomore-year dances, late nights in my high school publications suite and the occasional birthday memories bring me pure bliss for the moment. I am transported from my Washington, D.C. home to old high school classrooms, the volleyball gym and the Sonic Drive-Thru, the quintessential post-Friday-night-lights destination.
As I relive the happiest moments of my past, all my worries seem to dissolve. I forget about waking up for online classes in the morning. I forget about whose day it is to do the dishes or cook dinner. And I forget about the stress that comes with living in an off-campus house as a 19-year-old, fresh out of high school. At the same time, I realize how close we are to being able to create memories just like the ones we so desperately miss.
This spring has brought so much nostalgia for the early months of quarantine life. Like many of my peers, I was completely blindsided by the global spread of COVID-19 during my senior year of high school. Our final months should have been spent suffering from senioritis, attending final dances and celebrating at graduation. Instead, everything we dreamt of and saw in all the cliche high school movies was stolen from us before we even really knew what COVID-19 was or would become. I felt hurt, devastated and confused. But, as I began to recover from the initial shock, I decided to channel my frustration into a video diary.
Every day, I took one minute to record a life update and summary of each day in quarantine. I started on March 12 and kept up the hobby for 100 straight days. Everything from how I was feeling to global pandemic updates to daily highs and lows were all captured in those 100 videos.
A year ago today, according to my most recent Snapchat memory, I was sitting at my desk, Zooming with my friends and watching “Criminal Minds.” Now, I find myself celebrating one week since I received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused nationwide shutdowns, my parents and grandparents are completely vaccinated, along with many of my friends. Videos I rewatch of myself back in spring 2020 quarantine, unlike the videos from two years ago today or more, almost haunt me. Looking back on the videos now, I could not imagine reliving what we have been through. The way I see it now is we are just about to hit the finish line. We are this close to stepping back into normal life.
As millions across the world get vaccinated every day, I am increasingly hopeful — hopeful I will not have to worry about securing a lease for housing next semester, hopeful I will be able to go to in-person classes and eat in a dining hall for the first time.
While every day passes with new memories and video diaries from life in quarantine, I am reminded of how close we are to getting rid of family holiday Zoom meetings, online classes and virtual clubs; how close we are to getting back to how life is supposed to be lived. Whether they are filled with joy or sadness, memories have purpose and meaning and allow us to reflect on where we are.
As millions of Americans get vaccinated each day, I am hopeful this fall will be the perfect avenue to create even more meaningful Snapchat memories I will treasure for years to come.
Sam Ahmed is a first-year in the School of Foreign Service.