The past several months have taught us that we should not take anything for granted. Fun, for example, went by the wayside when our physical health became threatened.
Psychologists and countless scientific studies have shown that engaging in activities perceived as fun relaxes us, gives us space to reflect, helps us learn and shows us how to promote our wellbeing. Humans need fun in order to release stress and these have undoubtedly been stressful times for everyone. With COVID-19 cases on the decline, people are beginning to wonder when they can resume recreational and social activities. I know I have been thinking about it incessantly for the last few weeks. We can all agree that we need fun back. I say this in the sense that “fun” refers to an activity that you may enjoy. This does not necessarily refer to activities that people would have described as fun before COVID-19, for example, going back to school.
I want to pass by people in the hallway and fist bump my friends without the danger of possibly getting sick. I want to sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher give a lecture but be able to understand them because they are not wearing a mask. I want to eat lunch with a big group of people, fitting the usual 12 people at a table for eight. I want to walk into the theater and have the attendant scoop popcorn into a bucket for me to enjoy. I want to find a seat without worrying about wiping it down and using hand sanitizer immediately. I want to hear the laughs and cries of the oh so many people that have been stuck in their houses for the better half of a year. I want to walk out of the theater as the credits roll in a big crowd, funneling through the doors.
I want to go to a ball game with my brother and grandpa and stand on line with every fan getting food before the game starts and we need to find our seats. I want to high-five the guy sitting behind me when the Yankees score a run. I want to try on a ball cap in the team store without wiping it down and sanitizing everything I touch before I leave. I want to walk out of Yankee Stadium under the big arches with the crowd of fans cheering as we listen to “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra playing in the background.
I want to sit on the train next to complete strangers and step off into the sea of people that seem to never leave Penn Station. I want to explore the streets of New York City, enjoy the street performers and stop at a food cart. I want to go to a nice restaurant and have a conversation with the people seated next to me. I want to go to a concert and let myself fade into the crowd as we jump and sing along to the music that we all share a taste for.
I want to visit a college campus and observe the students, only a few years older than me, living the life that I may choose to pursue. I want to see the lecture halls, dorms and sports stadiums, that may be the focus of the stories I tell as an adult. I want to experience college life in person, and not on a screen.
I want to feel less an individual, protecting myself from the dangers of a virus and more a part of humanity, working, playing and experiencing life in person. The last six months have taught us separation: social distancing, quarantine, Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites. This is not how humans should be. This is not how a country should feel. I, and many others like me and different from me, want to enjoy ourselves again. Fun’s six-month hiatus must end and allow people to begin to live their lives again.
Zack Siegel is a student at Schreiber High School