The past is ash and dust

Brooke J. Freundschuh, Managing Editor

Welcome back, UNA! Although we live in a crazy, uncertain time, I am so thankful that we are able to return to our beautiful campus.

I’ll admit it, this is not how I thought things would look. When I imagined college as a child, I could’ve never predicted the COVID-19 outbreak and all of its ramifications. More specifically, however, when we finished the spring semester, I thought we were heading into a normal semester for the fall, but with the rise of the Delta variant, restrictions are still in place around us. 

But I have to ask myself now, “what is a normal semester?”

When Covid broke out in March of 2020, I was in my second semester of my freshman year of college. My first semester had been a whirlwind of new things. New friends, boys, places and experiences consumed my days. I had to learn to be myself on my own.

When quarantine began, I absolutely detested the phrase “the new normal.” I refused to believe that things wouldn’t go back to the way they were before. 

It took me over a year to realize that they won’t. 

No, I still don’t think COVID-19 will be a major threat forever. Yes, I believe that it will be safe for us to come together again in the coming years. But there is no going back to before. There’s no going back to who I was at barely 19. 

In time, we learn. We grow in and through the world around us, whether or not we choose to or not. 

I’ll never have a semester like my very first, and that’s a good thing. The world is a new place now and I am a new person. 

This doesn’t mean that I see a dystopian society in our future. I see a foundation that will hold the roots of something great. 

Over the summer, Billie Eilish released her second full-length album, “Happier than Ever.” 

In the introductory track, “Getting Older,” Eilish elaborates on the harsh and sometimes awkward truths of coming of age, but my favorite line remains, “I’m happier than ever. At least that’s my endeavor.”

These lines perfectly illustrate the mantra I’ve taken on this semester. 

This is the year that I will shine, despite all else. Not by manifestation or by chance, but because I will work for it. 

Many are familiar with UNA alumnus, John Paul White. He is a Grammy award winning musician, member of the Civil Wars and has collaborated with Taylor Swift. 

In the last five years, he has focused on his solo music. White’s newest project, however, is a little closer to home than the others. He will be teaching at UNA this semester, and I have the honor of taking one of his classes. 

As a freshman, I sought to interview him when I was a staff writer for The Flor-Ala. I dreamed of meeting him. Now, as the managing editor, I get to learn from him. 

There is no going back to before the pandemic, and that’s okay. 

I’m getting older, and that’s okay. 

I promise I’m smiling under my mask. 

As we embark upon this new semester, I will leave you with a quote from White’s song, “The Good Old Days,” a track about our own Florence, AL as it progresses:

“The past is ash and dust. Our best days are in front of us.”