The Gift of time by Belen Robles

As a senior in high school, of course, there are certain things that I have been looking forward to ever since I watched High School Musical. I know I should probably be devastated for losing those classic teenage experiences like prom, grad speeches, throwing caps in the air, and the summer-of-all-summers before college but it feels weird and materialistic to complain when there are much, much worse things occuring. It’s easy to count losses both serious and not-so-serious but it’s even easier to forget that there is something positive this quarantine has gifted me with. Something, I never seemed to have enough of until now: time. 


Before the quarantine, a full weekend to visit my dad in Fontana was a rarity. Even if there was no song to translate into ASL, memorize, or choreograph, no group project or color guard competition to attend, there was always too much homework to be done and too many tests to study for that visiting felt pointless. I was basically a workaholic ghoul glued to her books and laptop who only made an appearance every other weekend. 


Then, under unfortunate circumstances, all those extracurricular activities disappeared and the school load was not only infinitely lifted but became magnificently portable. I could finally catch my breath and spend quality time with my father, sisters, and step-mom. So as soon as I could, I packed a duffel full of clothes, a couple books, anything I might need for school, and spent a whole week in Fontana. 


My sisters could not believe it. The sister they only saw two or three times a month was staying for seven days straight? No way.


My first few days back we spent the whole day gaining headaches from trying to connect a 1,000 pieces into a puzzle, painting birds, mermaids, hearts with our family’s initials in them, and binging our favorite shows inside blanket forts. My step-mom and I continued our series of therapy sessions where we vented/ranted about everything over a morning cup of coffee because everyone else was still asleep. A


s the big sister, I felt more obligated to be a role model and made sure to do my homework and study and it rubbed off on my now home-schooled sisters. One thing I couldn’t but wished would rub off on them was my tidiness. I nagged at them and expected them to change their whole lifestyles by making their bed every morning, picking up their clothes, and washing every dish they used. They’re eight and ten, possible right? Yes, but “I’m not their mom.” They quarreled with each other and their arguments felt so much like the ones I used to have with my step-sister and brother that I was shocked and embarrassed and thanked whatever entity granted me maturity and hoped for an early deliverance of theirs but secretly enjoyed the sibling rivalry and entertainment. 


I can’t help it but between my two sisters, ten-year-old Sophia and eight-year-old Dani, I have a soft spot for the oldest. She has an enormous heart that has her bawling her eyes out in the movie theatres whenever something happy happens. We keep each other up way past our bedtimes, laughing, and binging our favorite shows, and all the while, infecting her with my love of coffee (don’t worry, hers is decaf). She’s the one I want to protect from the big bad world like I wish someone would have done for me. Of course, I know it’s unpreventable especially since sometimes it’s me who's doing the damage every time I leave her.


Dani, on the other hand, is the toughest person I have ever met. She’s confident and sassy; an explosion of energy, honestly, there are very few I look up to and admire more ーand she’s only eight! It’s amazing how different they are and I hope they learn from each other as I’m learning from them. That it’s possible to be both strong and confident like Danielle yet soft and vulnerable like Sophia. 


So yes, there’s a lot to bear from the quarantine but these memories and experiences and time with my sisters is something I never would have got any other way and I’m taking full advantage of it.