I never expected to be back on Vashon in the year after my graduation, let alone living at home.
When I received my diploma in the mail, the day after my virtual graduation, I donned the black tasseled cap sent to me and five hundred other graduating seniors and took the obligatory commencement photos … in my backyard. Everything about the past 10 months has been unprecedented. The perfect buzz word for this pandemic pandemonium of an election year. I came up with a list of names for this time we’re living in, and I’ll share a few with you.
An odd moment
A weird moment
The worst timeline
A negative blip
A wake-up call
A chance to re-connect
A second chance
A moment of reckoning
An alternate universe
The worst universe
A chance to rekindle love
A moment to check in with yourself
There are both negative and positive phrases and words in this list. I think it speaks to how you choose to view the world around you. And that’s not to say you have to stay consistent! I know I haven’t. I’ve been taking every day as it comes. Rarely have I planned beyond the two weeks immediately before me.
I’ve had the luxury of time. Since May, I’ve been living at home. I call myself a Stay-at-Home SonTM. This means, in exchange for housing, food, and a cute pup to pet, I walk said pet, run errands, help with tasks around the house, and generally do what needs to be done to keep the peace. I am certainly privileged to be able to live this particular pandemic lifestyle. The fact that I was able to navigate a sharp transition from expecting to have a summer job in Sitka, Alaska, into living with my family at home on Vashon with little impact on my ability to live comfortably is a testament to that privilege.
I was able to take the time I needed to recoup and find work and fulfillment outside of my duties as a Stay-at-Home SonTM. As someone who works, and just completed a degree, in a form of art that usually demands a live audience, I had little hope back in April, when the horizon for venues to re-open looked endless. Theatre, I thought, would be all but dead for a while.
Apparently, all it took to reaffirm my faith in the persistence of the arts community was a global pandemic, a compulsory deletion of a year’s worth of plans, and moving to Vashon. I reconnected with the glorious Vashon physical theatre ensemble UMO and helped them create a wonderful video project this summer. I reconnected with Open Space and helped them set up and manage their Summer of drive-in movies with Vashon Theatre.
I was able to spend more time on myself, check-in, and take the slow path towards healing my mind and body in all the ways I had been putting off. I’m only 23 years old, but it’s amazing how busy I realized my life had been. When you’re in it, you don’t realize all the things you’re missing, all the things you don’t have time to fully appreciate as you’re running from class to class, meeting to meeting. I hate to use the term silver lining (another pandemic cliche?) but this time on Vashon has been just that.
I was on a path, but in hindsight, it was a bit of a blind one. College does something to you where you’re so busy that you end up bouncing from thing to thing in a kind of path of least resistance. I felt as if I was going to be launched out of a graduation cannon and into a life of least resistance, never really taking the time to step back and think, “Is this easy opportunity really the best one?”
I know we’re not exactly out of the pandemic yet, but I now see a horizon line, not an endless sea. I’m making plans beyond the next two weeks and feeling the hope for a better future grow each day. My personal future would have been just fine before, better than fine! But now, I feel like I’m in control.
I’ve taken the time I need for myself, the time I needed to take for my country (phone banking! letter writing!), and the time I needed to take for my family. I’ve taken the wheel back from the least-resistance train conductor. Woot woooooot! When the door of normalcy opens again, I’ll be ready, and I hope you’ve had the time you need to be ready too.
In 2020, Max Sarkowsky graduated from Colorado College with a degree in theatre — the year the entire world decided to become dramatic.