No matter how much denial or suspension of disbelief we engage in, there is no denying that the pandemic truly has changed our lives in ways beyond basic comprehensibility. Most of us left for spring break with the highly-misplaced idea that we would be returning to campus in a week and getting back to our routines, however monotonous. Unfortunately, reality works in mysterious and absurd ways and here we are – eight months later, still adapting to new ways of living.
Since I’ve been back in Tucson, I’ve been trying to find safe new ways of spending time. With the advent of fall, I knew I had to take full advantage of the beautiful amber foliage and fresh air. This has resulted in wonderful discoveries, some of which I’ve listed below (each has a song suggestion attached to it as well). I hope you are able to try some of these and enjoy them as much as I do!
DRIVE UP TO A-MOUNTAIN (SENTINEL PEAK)
I feel like every Wildcat needs to pay homage at Sentinel Peak at least once per college career, if only just to see the imposing “A” embedded into the mountain face tower over the city. I suggest going at sunset so you can watch the beautiful desert sky yellows and oranges dissolve against cacti. By the way, the “A” is currently colored blue in honor of the frontline medical workers who work so very hard to make sure we’re all safe and healthy in these unsafe and unhealthy times!
Suggested song: "Sunset Lover" by Petit Biscuit. This doesn’t have lyrics to it but enjoy the care-free vibes, especially while watching a Sonoran sunset!
CUDDLE IN WITH A POETRY BOOK
On a cold afternoon going on evening, lay out a warm blanket, light a scented candle and grab a book – preferably poetry, but I might be biased here! The quote pictured is from a book of Urdu poetry and prose titled “A Thousand Yearnings," translated and introduced by Ralph Russell. It is essentially an anthology of Urdu works translated into English.
Suggested song: "Hollow (Acoustic)" by Belle Mt. — for its warm, almost melancholy sentiments.
I’ve discovered that campus has a few pretty neat spots where you can simply spread out a blanket and plop down and picnic with a few friends! This is especially rewarding on windy, bordering on overcast skies. Take a few minutes to appreciate the sky – you might even spot a few stars trying to glimmer through the grey of the clouds.
Suggested song: "Ain’t No Sunshine" by Bill Withers — to calm the soul.
LATE EVENING WALKS AROUND CAMPUS
What really helps me wind down after a long day is walking around campus, usually around 8 p.m. Just put on a sweatshirt and plug in your earphones and you’re good to go! Walk around campus and discover beautiful spots you might never have noticed before – like this beautiful Bougainvillea bush I spotted on Highland Avenue. Just make sure you’re safe and aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re walking alone!
Suggested song: "Dancing With Your Ghost" by Sasha Sloan.
HANG BY THE MALL
There might not be any in-person Fall on the Mall events anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your own thing! Grab a nice blanket (this is an indispensable step because I almost froze out there one evening), bring along a nice book and maybe a notebook with some nice colored pens. I like reminding myself to enjoy the little things in life while the fall breeze (often turned into raging winds) makes its way around me and the sun shines down on the grass. The quote I used for this picture was “I wish you a kinder sea” from an Emily Dickinson poem.
Suggested song: "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. I definitely suggest you check her music out! She works with political issues – this song is simply her throwing shade at U.S. authorities for giving her visa troubles, and that’s the only attitude we really need in 2020, c’mon!
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My recommendation is chocolate ice cream, but to each their own, right? Once again, tuck yourself in, all nice and cozy, surround yourself with fluffy pillows and start a movie on — insert streaming service of choice. Because I felt like I needed a good cry-post-romance movie, I decided to put on "500 Days of Summer."
Suggested song: "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" by Tame Impala. While the original is great, I have a soft spot for the Arctic Monkeys cover because of Alex Turner and that husky baritone anyone could easily fall asleep to, duh!
PLAY AN OUTDOOR SPORT
My relationship with sports has always been bittersweet. I’ve always been a huge — distanced — admirer of the kind of discipline and integrity any sport brings into your life. I decided to pick up my racket and get back on court after half a decade to get back to courting (pun intended) my one sports love: tennis. The bad news is the Student Recreation Center isn’t renting out sports equipment because of COVID concerns. The good news is that the courts at the end of the Mall are open, as are most outdoor sports fields.
Suggested Song: "Just Hold On" by Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson, because everyone needs an adrenaline-rush at times.
CATCH THE SUNRISE AT MT. LEMMON
This one is hard, I’m not going to lie, but so very worth it. Put on some warm clothes (also grab a warm winter jacket) and drive up to Mt. Lemmon to catch the sunrise. I would suggest you set out around 5 a.m. to get the best views. Marvel as the first rays of sunlight make their way through the sky!
Suggested song: "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica. What would I not do for that instrumental riff?
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Pavas Gupta is a sophomore from India studying English and economics. She has a keen interest in philosophy, social justice issues and politics.