home Memoir Sweet Distractions

Sweet Distractions

By Sacha Fleming ’20 (Adolescence Education: Social Studies)

Social distancing has been an interesting time and people are in a state of confusion. Everyone belongs to many distinct communities and/or groups defined by shared philosophy, culture and regional spaces. I would consider myself unconventional, a rebel and an activist. I guess you could call me a punk. Always marching to the beat of my own drum. This year I had so many goals and I began my last semester of college unsure of what the future would hold. At this very moment, I just turned 22 in May and I’m going to enter into the world where the reality of simple answers are rarely adequate. I was supposed to walk across the stage on my actual birthday and then embark on a trip to New Orleans with my best friend, Tania. But as my good friend said, don’t get your hopes up; there’s a long way to fall.

Before I was finishing up my first placement at Poughkeepsie Middle School, COVID-19 changed the world as we knew it. I was no longer able to go back to first placement and I left my off-campus house. I moved back to my parents’ apartment in New York City and began my second placement remotely. A series of events followed. One of my friends who attended New Paltz sadly passed away from diabetic shock and my family member suddenly had a stroke the same week. I felt broken and scared. As my city was under extreme lockdown, I heard nothing except the ambulance. Simple drops of rain under the grey skies viewing the Manhattan skyline, there was a sign of hope.

Living in the epicenter of the world can be very scary but my neighborhood, Astoria, was surprisingly calm. The recent debate regarding President Trump’s role in dealing with this world pandemic is vital in contemporary civic engagement. Luckily at my second placement, I had the pleasure of teaching American government and politics. My students wrote to me kind messages and really put their thoughts to writing about the current political climate. Many elders have an assumption that young people between 18 to 25 don’t participate in elections, but I strongly disagree. In periods of a global crisis regardless of any economic background, it’s so important that we help one another and without that freedom we cannot create meaning.

While in the midst of teaching and in the process of applying to NYU graduate school, I took the time to just relax. I just finished reading Peter Hook’s memoir about his experience playing with the legendary English post punk band, Joy Division. If you don’t know Joy Division’s music, just imagine being in a dark sythwave dystopian society with a white light at the center of it all. It’s chaotic, good but quite beautiful. While isolation has been extremely hard for me, these unknown pleasures have been a wayward distraction. Along with small walks to the neighborhood park and taking an art class with MoMA, I come to realize the small things in life. Sometimes you just need to stop and enjoy the present. You will get a job. People will always support you. Maybe you didn’t expect life to turn out a certain way, but it will get better.

I’m grateful for my family, mentors and friends who have supported me throughout my life as I keep growing. First I would like to thank my best friends Tania, Jamie, Dani and Allison for always being by my side for the good and the bad times. My advisor, Clare Kelly Barra, and my professors who inspired me to go above in my academics. To my 224 squad, I love each of every one of you and appreciate that you accepted me for who I am. My housemates of 8 Orchard Lane (Sam, Joe, Elias, Elana, and Charlotte) thanks for all the great times living together and the fun parties we’ve hosted. To Main Street Bistro and Cafeteria in town, thank you for always hosting open mic nights and making the best breakfast special for when times were stressful.

Lastly, I would like to personally thank WFNP, Radio eboard pals, Elijah Bloome and Crossroads for allowing me to have complete creative control in the studio while keeping the music scene alive. The memories I have from attending house shows, making new friends and chilling after live sessions were the highlight of my experience at New Paltz. In a time of COVID-19 and concerts constantly getting canceled, my question I want to know is: Is this really the new normal? Will things ever be the same again? The 2020s may seem to be an unusual time, but music will always be timeless. I can’t wait to go back to attending shows and seeing your beautiful faces again. As one door slams shut, a new door opens. I’m excited to embark on this wild journey.