“I get up, I go down. Every day the same old sound. I wish I could run. From here and now.”
Life at home, on a screen, with only your parents for company, quickly became monotonous for many teenagers.
“Yeah, I cleaned my room, I did stuff that normal teenagers don’t do. It becomes a kind of rhythm. Like you get up, you just do school, then you do your homework and you go to bed.
Randolph began his freshman year in high school in a hybrid model, where only half the school was in the building at a time. Most of his friends were assigned the other day.
“It was a bit empty when you came, like the hallways were empty. It did not feel populated. And then when you’re home, you have no one to talk to.
This isolation was perhaps most difficult for the teenagers. His grandparents stayed in their house for 18 months and he couldn’t visit them. He hasn’t seen his extended family as much. Randolph said he knew medical professionals were just trying to protect everyone. But he wonders if there could have been more awareness of the particular developmental stage of teenagers – they are hardwired to socialize.
“It was so hard. It was really sad to be alone.
“I wish I could run away from the here and now. Time is spent trying to change who I am.
In a literal sense, Randolph explains that the lyrics mean it’s dangerous to others if you have COVID-19, so you want to change and get better. In a metaphorical sense, especially for masked teenagers, it was really hard to understand people’s emotions.
The song in many ways reflects the way teenagers develop – being around others. Some parts of their brain are not fully developed, so sometimes they say or do wrong or inappropriate or awkward things, and their peers fail them by reacting. This ability was frozen for a few years.
“Being alone is kind of like, you don’t know what’s right or wrong because you don’t have anyone else’s opinion. … you’re just shooting in the dark for certain things “, did he declare.
“With masks and all this quarantine and everything, it’s really hard to understand people’s emotions towards you. And so a lot of the time you’re just trying to change who you are to be more suited to what you think people will like… I think it’s a lot harder in this whole COVID context to understand what people are thinking .
“All these people screaming desperately to save face. Why do I keep crying? Why is everyone lying? I just need to ‘get away’.
Watching the behavior of adults fighting over masks, vaccines, whether schools should be open or closed, making people feel bad if they wear a mask bothered many young people, Randolph said. To him, this seemed ridiculous in times of crisis.
“As a kid you watch this, all this fighting, you say to yourself, it doesn’t matter. We should all try to love each other and get through this together rather than being against each other on different opinions about what is right.
Randolph attended a Jefferson County school board meeting earlier this year, just as omicron was skyrocketing and teachers were falling ill. He thought officials would send the children home to learn.
“I just didn’t want that to happen.”
So he sang his song to the council members.
“Hold on to your loved ones because they will be there when this is all over. Do not be afraid. (Those who love you hang on.) The danger is there (Just hold your breath and be strong.) “Despite the fear (Just let them join in the fun.) The end is near.”
Randolph reflects on what he has lost and gained over the past two years. He “lost” his first year; his brother and sister “lost” their senior year. The regular rituals and rites of passage with each separate high school year have been lost for many.
“I feel like the year didn’t exist… my freshman year, like, I’m going to look back and be like, when did that happen? And, and it’s like it happened that year I was home.
Now Randolph knows himself and his family better, but he also experienced a different loss than he had ever felt before.
“Before COVID, I never dreamed or thought that I could be so isolated from the rest of the world. So I’ve definitely acquired a sense of loss and what it is. I think I can appreciate a little better things.
“I want my life to be what it was before…”
Randolph hopes masks and isolation are a thing of the past instead of the ‘new normal’.
He is hopeful for the future.
With his new music production skills he picked up during the pandemic, after high school he wants to study arts, film production, music production, or musical theater. Next week, he will star as Race Higgins in the D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. Strong production of “Newsies”, which is about a newspaper strike during the Depression.
At a recent Saturday morning school rehearsal, Randolph — even with a cast on his leg and a mask over his face — pounded it during a solo. He is surrounded by friends. Children sing, play and have fun. They are carefree, laughing, together.