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Chloe Chan, 12
Bellevue, WA

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Chloe Chan, 12

Watching the paint dry on a wall is really boring. But this is how I feel during quarantine at home due to the novel coronavirus. I cannot dine out in restaurants, taking in the atmosphere. Instead, I have to eat at home. I cannot go to the grocery store: I have to do grocery shopping online. I cannot go to my golf class without wearing a mask and unfortunately, playing a sport with a mask on is suffocating. Before the Coronavirus, people went outside freely and without fear. They threw parties, not caring about social distancing. They did not fear that they may get sick when they go on an airplane. Life is more boring and different, but I try to think positively, and think about where I would like to go for vacation after COVID-19 ends.

I was thinking about many different places to travel. Would I like to go to the sandy beaches in Spain? I like the thought of going to a place where I can relax and not care less about time. I could listen to the ocean waves crashing against the sandy beach every moment. I could swim in the Mediterranean Sea, enjoying the sun. I could relish what authentic paella tastes like. I could stuff myself full with tapas up to my eyeballs! I could see the wonderful and vivid architecture that Antoni Gaudi designed. But, for the moment, I cannot go there. So, I imagine what it would be like, and Google pictures to make myself feel like I am there. I see the vivid pictures of the ocean, I go on YouTube and listen to the ocean crashing against the sand. I turn on the lights, as if it were as radiant as the sun. I see the beautiful architecture that Antoni Gaudi designed. The church of the Sagrada Família’s symmetrical and detailed designs. The stairs leading me up the humongous church. I imagine myself going up there, enjoying the view of Barcelona. I make paella at home, savoring the delicious tomato, seafood, and saffron flavors embedded into each grain of Spanish rice. I make one of the tapas by rubbing garlic and tomatoes onto a piece of bread. Then, I drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt onto the same piece of hard, white bread, the motion mesmerizing. Spain at home was wonderful, I enjoyed the food, the sights, and the sounds even if they were on a computer. I wonder, what would it be like if I were actually in Spain after COVID-19 ends?

I also think of another place to travel after the novel Coronavirus ends. Would I like to go to the loud seafood markets in Japan? Would I like to experience the wonderful and peaceful hot springs and ryokan? Would I like to stuff myself with food like there were no tomorrow? I like the thought of going to a place where I can be both boisterous and quiet. I could go to the markets and enjoy the sashimi as I haven’t eaten raw food in such a long time. I could try different types of Japanese food such as takoyaki, a round, crispy ball which has dashi-flavored batter on the outside and a small piece of octopus inside with green onion. I could also eat the sweet dessert called dango–a ball of rice flour combined with many different ingredients that is very chewy and sticky. Even just thinking of these foods makes my mouth water. I also imagine myself in a hot spring, enjoying the steamy tub of hot water. Just thinking about going to a hot spring makes my bones ache less and my back feel massaged from the hours I have sat down staring at the blank wall. I also imagine ryokan, a Japanese traditional hotel. I visualize myself opening the papery sliding door as I see a short table with two short but cozy chairs overlooking a beautiful garden. Many different green and vivid plants are deliberately placed. A small body of water flowing freely, like I would feel enjoying the view. Even quarantine inside a ryokan would be like meditating every day. Just thinking about the Japanese garden calms my nerves and I start to forget the sadness and boredom I face in quarantine. At night, I see myself lying down on a tatami, a beautifully woven mat made from rice straw. I nestle comfortably in the vividly designed futon, made of a thin mattress and a quilt blanket. I imagine myself falling asleep faster than I have ever done in quarantine.

These vacation ideas of going to Spain and Japan after COVID-19 ends sound like the answer to improving my mental health. This makes quarantine a thousand times better. Staring at the wall will soon pass by and will seem like nothing compared to vacation. Maybe life isn’t so bad, I think, I have a lot of vacation and retirement plans ahead of me! And for the first time, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel glowing dimly, but still there.

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