Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of school, until it wasn’t.
Salt Lake City School District is the only Utah school system that is all online, and the only one that hasn’t started classes yet. But Tuesday, after almost four months of waiting, school was finally ready to begin.
Or so I thought.
I woke up bright and early, ready to start my day. After months of socially distanced boredom, I was ready for anything that would take my mind off of the pandemic: even homework. I got ready, then wandered downstairs to grab a bite to eat. I put my bagel into the toaster and waited. Then waited some more. Toast doesn’t normally take this long, right?
That’s when I noticed that our power was out.
Several emails and one hurried app download later, I found a way to join online classes from my phone. Scarcely 10 minutes had passed when a classmate said, “I heard that the district just canceled classes; is that true?”
Our teacher checked his email and, sure enough, all classes were canceled. I left my 15-minute first day, my mind filled with questions. What could have happened to make the district cancel school right in the middle of first period?
Walking downstairs, I took a quick glance out the window. Expecting to see a clear September sky, I was surprised by thousands of leaves blowing in every direction, and trees buffeted so hard by the wind they looked ready to topple. Hurricane-force winds had blown over trees and power lines, leaving almost 170,000 homes and businesses without power.
With a school day’s worth of time left to fill, I left on a walk around the neighborhood. Immediately, I was hit by a gust of wind so strong it almost knocked me over. Fighting the wind and navigating around dozens of fallen branches, I made my way to the end of the street.
It was like a tornado had hit — fences knocked down, huge trees uprooted in the middle of the road, cars crushed under the weight of falling detritus. I passed a tree that had been split in half; another that was blown to pieces so completely, it looked as if it exploded.
I shielded my eyes from the torrent of debris flying my way and began to push my way back across the sidewalks now green with fallen leaves. I arrived shivering at home, grateful to be out of the wind at last.
The morning came and went, and soon, the day was almost over. The wind stopped and the sun came out again, shining through the broken branches of the trees left standing. Although the power is still out, I think that soon, I’ll get the first day of school I’ve been looking forward to.
This has been a year like no other: a year filled with a global pandemic, earthquakes and hurricane-force winds. Life feels crazier than ever. But, like the wind, I am hopeful that the madness of 2020 will come to an end and the sun will rise once again: over 2021.
Adelaide Parker is a junior at West High School in Salt Lake City, where she writes for the school newspaper, The Red and Black.