I usually get a bit tearful when I say goodbye to my family and head back to Columbia. I’m an overly sentimental person, and even though they’re only two hours away, the distance can sometimes feel insurmountable. This August, though, was different. I’d been quarantining with them for nearly three months straight, and we were all growing sick of each other. I couldn’t keep living with them, but I didn’t want to leave. It made me feel like a freshman again: walking into unknown territory, ready to figure things out for myself, reaching for a hand to hold.

Luckily, there were more than enough outstretched hands when I returned to Columbia. Working at the Missourian meant getting to socialize with my friends on a regular basis. The physical room of the 'photo bubble' spread far past Lee Hills Hall, as many of us formed our own small COVID bubbles with one another. We were isolated, but we were never really alone.

Now, as vaccines have raced to market and cities are reopening to full capacity, it feels like this chapter of life is drawing to a close. For that to coincide with finishing my undergraduate career feels like fate — less so when paired with my decision to stick around and get my master’s. I’ve made a new home here, more so in the last 15 months than ever before. Nowhere would be better to wait out the potential end to our global nightmare than where I am right now.
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