Emptying Pockets

by Kasia O'Brien

march 8th, 2021


Emptying Pockets

by Kasia O'Brien

I am trapped in a reality straight out of Groundhog Day. Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, I feel like I’ve sat on my couch and lived the same day over and over and over. Somehow, months have passed in a matter of seconds and the icy grip of winter greets me far too soon. As I sit in the warmth inside my home, an increasingly familiar feeling covers me like a weighted blanket and pushes me deeper into the seat of my already sunken sofa.


The feeling pressing me down is restlessness infused with both fear and longing–– fear of death, of loss, of a new reality; longing for the old world to return with my old life and its taken-for-granted comfort. Sinking deeper into my sofa, its hold begins to suffocate me; I get up and release myself from its grip. 


I slip my winter coat on one sleeve at a time and zip it up carefully so as to not catch my scarf or the soft skin under my neck. It is the first truly cold day this winter and the brisk New England wind whistles through the window, urging me to zip my coat up a little tighter. I stare out my front door as I slip my mask over my ears one strap at a time and pull it up over my nose, a ritual when passing over the threshold from the old world of the maskless (which is now my home) to the new. 


I open the door and stick my hands in my pockets, bracing the cold wind and the memories of pre-COVID life I hope to forget with every step I take. Finding my pockets full of crinkly sounds and objects I quickly return inside to empty them. As the small things spill over the kitchen counter, I realize I have uncovered an archive of my past life–– my time capsule of just a few months that sends quick and stinging memories through my mind.


A movie ticket. I long to sit in a movie theater again, staring up at a massive screen while munching easily on popcorn without moving down my mask. I even miss the awkwardness of sitting next to strangers, when proximity was uncomfortable, not dangerous..

My college ID. It was what feels like only a few months ago that I walked through my college’s dining hall, filled with a sea of students, swiping my ID for a quick meal between classes. I long for that familiar  stress, navigating through the crowd and walking to my class filled with peers that sit side by side. 

A crinkled archive of restaurant receipts. This one hurts the most. I want to be surrounded by friends and loved ones, enjoying food and the noisy atmosphere of a restaurant bustling with weekend celebrators. I long for this human interaction.


The stuck feeling gets a little bit heavier. How had it all changed so fast? Every movie theater I sat in, every swipe of my ID, every meal shared at a restaurant, and everything in this moment seems impossible. All of it is so close, yet so incredibly far. 


I stick my hands in my pockets and spread my fingers out wide, taking up every inch of the emptiness. As I stare down at my archive, I feel the intense need to stop the nostalgia–– to stop the stinging memories and the longing. It is time to lift the weighted blanket of restlessness and heal the stinging left by the memories of pre-COVID life.


I adjust my mask back onto my nose and begin my walk, letting the cold wind blow against my face and take my nostalgia with it. What a blessing it is to be able to be alive, even if it looks different than it did only a few months ago. I slowly realize that my pockets are not empty–– they are simply waiting to be filled. 


Filled with hope and items from our new life and our new reality living in a global pandemic. 


Filled with masks and the ways we all do our part to work towards a life that resembles the past but changes for the future–– for a better future.


It is time to empty our pockets (as hard as that may be) and leave them with the promise of a new fullness. 

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Meet the creative

Kasia O'Brien

My name is Kasia and I’ve been a writer for as long as I could hold a pen. I’m a soon-to-be graduate of Boston College with dreams of pursuing journalism, and hope to live out those dreams soon in NYC. As a lover of and advocate for animals, I am passionate about the well-being of all beings and of the Earth we all call home. I currently live in Boston, Mass with the love of my life, Cooper the German Shepherd.

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