About two months ago, I arrived in Denver and worked for about two weeks as a waitress before I was told that due to COVID-19 I would not be receiving a paycheck for the foreseeable future, and that my routine would now include staying at home and social distancing.
At 23, I’d chosen this as the place to start my new life. I’d fallen in love with the city on a visit a few months earlier. Having spent my college years studying in Burlington, Vermont, I felt the two places had a similar feel.
I was thrilled for the chance to explore new parts of myself, whether it be career based or simply the chance to try new, outdoorsy hobbies. When my six months of living at home with my parents reached an end, I packed up my things and headed west, to begin my next chapter.
But how was I supposed to build this new life, the one that I was looking forward to so much, with such extreme social distancing practices? I wasn’t. I can’t. The excitement of moving to a place where I thought I’d fit in so nicely turned to anxiety and melancholy.
The best part of moving to a new city is the chance to start fresh, meet new people and explore new places, try new activities, eat in new restaurants; build the foundations of a life.
Suddenly, the life I’d imagined was ripped out from under me. Having graduated a little under a year ago, working hard to save up enough to move to Denver, and then finally doing it had given me the perspective that my life was beginning, but I soon found out that this new freedom of adulthood would be put on a devastating and detrimental hold.
It’s lonely, having opportunity within your grasp and then losing it. Human connection is what gives life color, and with no structure I found mine growing steadily black and white.
But I haven’t given up. I know that the universe has a plan for us, even if we can’t understand it yet. I know that there’s still a beautiful life waiting for me, and I’m slowly finding it in this new reality that I’m building.
With those that I do call my new friends I’m creating much deeper bonds, and with the time away from the restaurant I know more fully what I want from this life. I want connection with people, myself, my work, my surroundings. I want meaning, and in any other circumstances I might not have found it, with the distractions that used to plague me.
In a sense, I’m free. In a sense, when this is all over, I get to rediscover this city, what was waiting for me when I first got here, and a rebirth. Life becomes mundane sometimes, and the way to keep it beautiful is when we find ways to prune what doesn’t contribute to our growth anymore, so new buds can blossom.
I’m learning things I wouldn’t have before, about myself, about what I want. I’ve learned how best to take care of my houseplants, to notice the dappled sunlight on my floor in the morning and how stunning it is. I’ve learned that I love zucchinis and hate chorizo, that I’m an introvert but being around people is wonderful, too.
It’s little things that sometimes make the biggest difference, and one day, when this ends, I’ll move forward into the life that I was meant to live. We all will.
Because things fall apart so they can bind again in new ways, ugly things happen to show the beauty in humanity, separation divides us so we can come back together.
To the universe: I trust you.
Alyssa Mamuszka is a recent arrival from Vermont living in Denver.