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I’m 15 and Quarantined in Italy—You’d Be Surprised What I Miss

I was in Latin class when the Italian government announced the closure of schools three weeks ago. Our teacher stopped declining verbs, and after conferring with another teacher at the door, she told us that this would be our last day of school until March 15th. I was so relieved. I had two tests the next day and a lab report to write. Plus I play competitive soccer, so I don’t have a lot of time to study during the week. This break was exactly what I needed.

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I thought I would have a week of vacation to relax. I imagined pickup basketball and unlimited screen time. My life would continue without the stress of school.

That’s how it was, until one week later when I was sitting with my family in the living room and the president announced a total national lockdown.

Soccer had been cancelled, but I would still have been working out with my teammates. School was continuing online, but there weren’t any tests. I was in touch with my friends constantly on my phone. I could watch NBA matches live without being yelled at to go to bed. Things were fine. What was the big deal if this continued for a few more weeks?

I didn’t realize then that this wasn’t a prolonged vacation, or that this time would change how I see my life.

It was a few days later that the frustration set in. I realized that I wasn’t happy or relaxed like I am during summer vacations. I felt a weight. The weight was nostalgia for the things I missed. As we reach nearly a month of this new reality, I’m continually surprised by the things I miss.

I can’t believe it, but I miss school. I miss waking up and getting dressed in a rush, and getting to school and seeing my friends with their backpacks on. I miss the way we make each other laugh, in the hallway and on the court. I miss my teachers and the way they challenge me and stimulate me. I even miss the way they get mad at me for goofing off. I even miss classrooms.

And then, I miss soccer. Of course I miss kicking a ball into the goal, but it’s more than that. I have realized in these weeks that I need someone training next to me, someone who is running faster and pushing me do my best. I can’t do my best at anything when I’m at home alone in lockdown.

If you had told me one month ago that I could be sick of FIFA PlayStation, I would have said you were crazy. But I am. I am sick of online games, media, and having to interact with my friends on Instagram. I want to be with them, face to face, because it’s not the same online.

It’s incredible, but I am sick of screens.

(I am also sick of my parents and sister, which is something that doesn’t surprise me at all!)

The things that I miss are all things that I have complained about in the past: school, teachers, soccer practice. Now I can’t wait to go back to my ordinary life. I realize now I should have been more grateful on those evenings when I would return home for dinner after a day filled with school, sports, and friends.

If this experience is teaching me anything, it’s that all those things I’ve begged my parents for—a later curfew, a new phone, a car!—aren’t essential to my happiness. All I want is my ordinary life back. Now I realize that I don’t really need anything else.

Anthony Avallone is a high school freshman at St. Stephen’s International School in Rome, Italy. He was born and raised in Rome, and plays soccer for C.C. Roma.  He is a fan of the Napoli soccer team and Lakers basketball. His other passions include travel and cooking.

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