With friends and family suffering, I hesitate to write about silver linings. Instead, I’ll share my observation of what (in my house) has come to be known as the “COVID time paradigm,” this period to do what we wouldn’t have had time to accomplish under normal circumstances. In this case, in our house, it means going through the boxes and boxes of memories filling our nearby storage unit.

What seemed like a process that would take place in some distant time has become a part of our quarantine daily routine. A few weeks ago, my dad returned from our storage unit with the first load of boxes. After their overnight stay in the mudroom, we began to sort through their contents at a modest rate of two boxes per day.

Box one was labeled SMA for Sawtooth Martial Arts. Unpacking belts, broken boards and bo staffs sparked memories of training, traveling and testing. My family reminisced about sparring competitions in Salt Lake City, the incredible people we encountered, the lessons we learned and the bond it strengthened within our family.

Boulder Mountain Clayworks was inscribed in Sharpie onto the side of box two. Piece after piece reminded me not only of my lackluster artistic abilities (even by a 7-year-old’s standards), but also of our time spent together, molding the character and quality of our relationships. Halloween candle holders, Thanksgiving turkey plates, Christmas bowls—all were equally ugly, and at the same time magnificent.

Boxes three, four, five through 50 sparked more memories, more conversations, more reminders that we had so much to be thankful for. More importantly, our spring cleaning pointed out that it truly does take a village. We were raised here, in a place where so many amazing people and opportunities helped shape the people we could and would become. When I heard from far-away friends that our community was being referred to as ground zero for coronavirus, that our little Idaho ski town was being painted in such a negative light, I was quick to defend. With the COVID time paradigm in full effect, I realized why I felt the need to push back. For me, the benefits of growing up in this valley are so clear. The experiences are eternally etched in each of us. Just in case we might forget how profound these moments were and are, there are bits and pieces that can be placed in boxes and labeled, then rediscovered, revived and relived when needed. So in this crazy, challenging, confusing time, don’t forget to unpack the things that make this place so special and the effect they’ve had on you and yours.


Zoe Simon is a senior at Wood River High School. Her column, “Student Perspectives,” appears monthly in the Idaho Mountain Express.

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