Hot-vaxx summer
Students share their highs and lows of summer 2021

22 minutes
Lou-Anne Carsault, Contributor

“Mom isn’t coming,” I say as I zigzag down Pearson International Airport’s curvy exit ramp. 

“What do you mean?” My brother gasps through the phone. “Didn’t she drive all the way from Boston to New York to get onto this freaking plane?”

“Looks like it’s gonna take more determination than that,” I snicker. 

“It’s not funny! Her U.S. visa expires soon. Are we not gonna see her for another six months?”  

“Looks that way.” 

“Did she at least give you a reason?” 

“She didn’t. She just said she’s not coming.” I hang up.

I merge onto highway 427 South as fog fills the sky. I smirk and wonder if the mid-May fog is a new governmental strategy to promote physical distancing. 

I park in my driveway, turn off the engine, and stare at the steering wheel. What went wrong? Didn’t they say that a 48-hour negative Covid test was enough to board the plane? 

I grasp my phone and scroll through the conversation with my mom. She got tested on Sunday. It’s Tuesday. What went wrong?

I slide my feet to the front door as my pocket vibrates. It’s a text from Mom. 

“My phone died. I couldn’t board the plane because my test expired 22 minutes before the flight.”

Cinemas are Essential???
Sherene Almjawer, Contributor

“Hello! Welcome to the cinema!”

“I want a hot dog.” The man grimaced.

It was 11 a.m. on opening day—my first shift back since quarantine—and the first customer was a grown man with the attitude of a frat boy. 

“We don’t have hot dogs right now. Sorry,” I said.

“So why is it up there?”

“I’m sorry. We-”

“Why are you advertising it? You only have popcorn? You’re lying to your customers.” His mask shuffled with every word until it barely covered his nose.

“I apologize but-”

“You shouldn’t advertise it if you don’t have it. You need to change it.”

Minimum wage work at an understaffed cinema wasn’t worth it. Possibly being exposed to Covid-19 and dealing with people who use a year of quarantine to excuse all manners only made it worse.  

“We can’t control what’s on the-”

“You’re advertising that you have hot dogs when you don’t. You’re liars.”

It was my turn to cut him off. 

“We can’t control it.” 

“Yeah but-”

“We don’t have hot dogs and we can’t remove the image.”

“Liars,” he muttered and trudged away.

I stood there, baffled, surrounded by empty candy shelves, with a splatter of butter permeating my uniform and a long line behind the man who didn’t have a grip on reality. 

Welcome back, I guess.

Baking my way through summer 2021
Dalainey Garvais, Associate Features Editor

I grew up in a tightly knit French Canadian family. As a child, we often gathered around my great-grandparents’ long dinner table surrounded by plates of tourtière and sweet turnip—these are the childhood memories I cherish the most. 

I missed my extended family in Ottawa this summer. I couldn’t recreate the atmosphere of fullness created by my big family in a small room, but I could fill my home with the smell of baked goods that so often accompanied our many get-togethers. Sweet sugar pies and molasses-covered buckwheat crèpes are staples in my great-grandparents’ home. 

This summer, I learned to bake cookies, cakes, and danishes—but was ready for a new challenge: bread. Bread symbolizes people coming together and sharing. Some say that bread-making is a science, but I learned that it’s more than that. Bread-making takes patience, time, and care—qualities that make me feel immense love from family.

The steam escaping the oven and touching my face, followed by the sweet smell of freshly-baked bread, reminded me of my family’s smiles and laughter—something I craved more than the sweetness of any baked good. 

Pushing the Pedals to a Vaxxed Summer
Kareena Kailass, Contributor

A month ago, the thought of getting on a bike and getting vaccinated ignited a fear in me greater than no other. 

When I was six, I thought I could ride my bike down a hill with no hands. The wind against my hair felt amazing, until I tasted the asphalt. I came out of the hospital with minor injuries and a few stitches—enough for me to fear bikes and needles for the next thirteen years.

At 19, after being in lockdown for a year and a half, I finally decided to relearn how to ride a bike. I practiced every day for weeks and re-acquainted myself with the art. Eventually, my fear of bikes dissipated. 

My Covid-19 vaccination forced me to get over my fear of needles. I booked an appointment close to home and seized the opportunity to ride my bike to the clinic—my first real ride out. A rush of adrenaline and pride carried me through my dose, and before I knew it, it was over. 

The Garden Fairy 
Lydia Clarke Rehman, Contributor

“Hot-Vax Summer” brought many challenges, but with adversity bloomed growth. The adventure began with an organic garden built on the foundations of love, patience, and commitment. The garden consisted of hot peppers, tomatillos, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and a selection of green herbs. I learned many lessons as the plants grew, the most important being patience. 

Learning how to be patient looked like this: plant seeds, cover them with dirt, wait seven to ten days for the first sprout, water them daily, and allow lots of time for growth until the fruits are ready. 

Despite the goal of producing harvest, my first outcome was disappointment; a feeling of failure from unsprouted seeds and absent fruit. Rather than succumbing to defeat, through patience, I gave it a second try—this time with the help of a YouTube tutorial. The first milestone was achieved: a gentle green sprout poked above the squishy soil. The yellow and white flowers followed with the vibrant production of ripening green and red fruits. The excitement was inexpressible. 

Symbolically speaking, we are all seeds capable of wonders, so be gentle with your growth. 

The Long Way Home 
Shazreh Salam, Contributor

After spending five weeks in Pakistan, my siblings and I decided to come home three weeks earlier than our original two-month planned trip. The plan was simple: catch a flight from Lahore to Toronto. However, the pandemic made that a challenge. 

Our flights kept getting cancelled, and due to ticket pricing, travel bans, and hotel quarantine rules, we had to improvise. So, we booked a flight to Boston, Massachusetts.

After arriving in Boston, we checked into our hotel and had to find a place to get our Covid-19 tests done. With no access to a car or the local bus, we wandered everywhere—and mind you, I hadn’t taken a hike since the pandemic started. After having sore feet and fulfilling the technical requirements to re-enter Canada, we set out on our 16-hour bus journey to the Canadian border. 

We travelled to New York City first, where we almost missed our connecting bus to Buffalo. Fifteen hours later, I finally saw the mist rising from the Falls in the sky. I had never been so excited to see the Falls. As we crossed the Rainbow Bridge on foot, I realized that our four-day travelling nightmare was finally over.   

Associate Features Editor (Volume 48)
Dalainey is completing her fifth and final year at UTM double majoring in Linguistics and Anthropology. She previously served as a Staff Writer for The Medium's Volume 47. Through her passion for languages, Dal hopes to create a fun and inviting atmosphere for students through her contributions to the school paper. You can find her reading the latest mystery novel in the library or testing a new bread recipe in the kitchen. You can connect with Dal on her Instagram or LinkedIn.

Associate Opinion Editor (Volume 48)  — Kareena is a second-year student double majoring in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies and Philosophy. Through her contributions to The Medium, Kareena hopes to encourage students to let their voices and stories be heard. When Kareena is not writing or studying, you can find her shooting hoops, watching true crime mysteries, or cooking.

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