Duality in the Age of COVID-19

 

By Loretta Bonifacio

lbonifa2@mail.ccsf.edu

 

Hi, I’m Loretta. I was born, raised, and currently live on stolen Ohlone land, otherwise known as San Francisco. My family immigrated here from Manila, Philippines in 1968. I enjoy writing creatively and have aspirations to work as a journalist. I’ve been affiliated with City College since I earned my certificate of accomplishment from the Creative Writing program in 2019. Now, I’m freelancing as a journalist with City College’s student-run newspaper, The Guardsman. If it isn’t clear already, I love to write. 

 

But does writing love me back? Towards the end of Fall 2019, I thought I was closer to finding out. At that time, I was interested in applying for graduate programs in journalism outside of California. What a difference a pandemic makes, because graduate school is the last place I need to be right now. Leaving my family behind wouldn’t make sense, and neither would taking on another loan-laden expense. Supporting my family—emotionally and financiallyis a lifelong obligation that began to look different in the face of COVID-19. If I couldn’t write professionally, then what could I do that would positively affect meaningful change for my family? My ancestors didn’t live to see me amount to nothing, which meant I had to do something. Figuring this out started to terrorize and irritate me.

 

My irritation was secondary when I began to consider grief. Familial grief. Grief as a result of unfathomable loss. Anyone who has lost a loved one since mid-March understands this reality tenfold. Death’s burden is heavy. Its permanent, unwavering nature at this time is now fully realized when even a physical embrace can’t be spared. Fractured, disjointed endings and premature goodbyes are now emblematic of COVID-19. I echo what multitudes already have: I’m fortunate to have today. Postponing or abandoning my graduate school plans is not a fatal blow, but rather, a choice. And in the throes of a pandemic, choice is one of the great gifts afforded to us. Why does loss consistently inspire gratitude? 

 

My renewed gratitude for life and its possibilities led me to Climb Hire. Climb Hire is a social impact, upskilling program that equips working adults with both the resources to learn Salesforce software and the soft skills necessary for success in professional workspaces. I applied in March, was accepted in September, and have been part of the program for a month. I’m privileged to join a community that is so invested in my success and believes so deeply in my abilities that it almost seems like a mirage. 

Loretta Bonifacio stands for a portrait in Dolores Park. San Francisco, CA. Oct. 30, 2020. Photo by Emily Trinh/The Guardsman.

Now, I’ll be honest. The tech sector did not appeal to me. But, survival does. It reminded me of something my college therapist told me: you can hold two truths. I can earn my Salesforce Administrator certification and continue to write. I can support my family while doing work that nurtures my soul. These things aren’t mutually exclusive and don’t need to be. 

 

As a former pessimist and current, budding optimist, I experience life a little differently now. My concerns focus on what I can do, how I can serve others, and how I can continuously improve. I’m tolerant of what I can’t change about myself. One day, this tolerance will shift to understanding. But for now, I’m content with today and hopeful for tomorrow. Whatever happens, whether that’s now or on Election Day, I will actively work towards a more equitable, antiracist future because I, like you, deserve it.

 

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