By David Conger/El Inde
Just some weeks ago, Covid-19 was a mere punchline to light-hearted jokes everywhere in the U.S. But now, with more than tens of thousands of U.S. lives lost to this invisible enemy, it is no longer a joke nor an unforeseeable fate. It has affected everyone on this planet, all in varying degrees. From those who have lost their lives, to their loved ones, to the seemingly uninfected Americans cooped up in their homes who are either working from home (or unfortunately, lost them). And then, there’s me: A 22 year-old college student who was set to graduate this spring.
This is an important milestone for my family, for I will be the first Conger to graduate from a four-year university.
Some weeks ago I was getting ready for the Collegiate Conference Championships triathlon, the last race before nationals in April; I was setting up a job with a medical device company, and attending classes in person, enjoying every last ounce of it before my college career was over.
But now, here we are. Races are cancelled and hiring has been halted on the company I wanted to get hired by. My graduation ceremony is cancelled, and I am unable to say goodbye and thank you to all my classmates and professors who have helped make my college experiment as good as it was.
But through it all, I recognize there is a subtle beauty and opportunity for some of us during this time. Most notably, we are seeing people being forced to stay at home, possibly giving them more time with their families.
Recently, my girlfriend and I took a road trip from Tucson to Boise, Idaho, to spend 10 days with my family, and then we headed on to Salem, Oregon, to spend another 10 days with hers. It turned out to be an incredible opportunity for both of us.
My girlfriend, like is also very active, a former collegiate swimmer and now triathlete, so we share the same activities for exercise and general well being. And one thing we have noticed during this time is how many more people and families are out on bike rides, walks or runs. Everyone — us included — seems to feel a strong sense of community and love of family right now. From Boise to Salem, and now back in Tucson, I have never seen so many people just enjoying and appreciating the peace and freedom the outside can give us.
So through this all, I have a few wishes: To appreciate my friends, family and loved ones; to cherish every amount of time I get to spend with them, because we do not know how much time we have left. I hope to appreciate life’s simple things such as being able to go out for a walk, run or bike ride. And finally, at the end of the day, I want to believe it does not matter in the end if I never get to race a national championship again, or walk across a stage to receive a diploma. In the meantime, I hope to stay safe, and stay home, except for that walk, run or ride.