On March 13th I flew to South Africa for a long overdue visit. I hadn’t seen friends for over three years, I missed the African sun, I was set to attend a Jacki Bruniquel workshop that I had wanted to attend for years and I really needed a break. A few weeks before my trip, COVID-19 spiked in South Korea and I was concerned that my flights would be cancelled. It was a stressful few weeks leading up to the trip but all went well! Of course I had some concerns that I wouldn’t be able to get back, but I was more worried about flights that would be cancelled to Korea (seeing as though it was the country with the most cases outside of China). I had already started thinking what changes to make to my route back to Korea but I was not ready for the announcement of a hard lockdown for 21 days. It was scheduled to start on March 26, 4 days before I was going to leave. There was really little knowledge of the regulations that were going to be set into place and the president only announced on March 25 that all airports would be shut. With no way to get out, I had to make peace with the fact that my trip would be a little longer than I expected. I was given time. Something we all long for.
On a normal trip to South Africa my time and focus is divided among friends and things that I want to do. I had time to actually be with my family. It was the first time in my siblings’ life that I lived with them that they will be able to have memories of. When they were still toddlers I had left for university 4 hours from home and after that, I moved abroad so they remember very little of when I was living with them. It’s much harder to build an organic connection between us and if I don’t see them at least once a year, that connection fades as they grow older and their interests and lives rapidly change. In these weeks I built up strong bonds with the two of them which is something I am so ever grateful for!
In the first week of my trip I was attending a photography workshop on the eastern coastline of South Africa. My mother and I decided to make a short trip out of it and rented an apartment right on the beach. My sister, Megan loves the ocean and was very disappointed that she had to stay at home, but when the president announced the closing of schools the night before we left, she squealed and started packing. I was so pleased that she could come with us! Some of my favorite memories with my mom and Megan were made during those 4 days. We laughed so much, we swam, watched the sunrise over the ocean every morning, bonded over great food and went for beautiful morning walks together. It was perfect.
We also spent hours together out on the farm where her horse, Scooby is stabled. Megan is a very successful self-taught equestrian and being around the horses on the farm is her paradise and escape. I got to experience the enchanting relationship she has with Scooby and really understand her obsession with horses. We took some senior portraits with her and Scooby and I was just blown away by how much she has accomplished.
Once lockdown went in place, Megan and I grew even closer. Our love for the sport of crossfit and its community connected us on a deeper level. We tried to stay active with daily workouts in the yard, getting as close to 10 000 steps each day as possible and playing outside with the dogs. I saw self-discipline in a 17 year old that is rare and I was just swelling with pride looking at her.
Twenty-one days of lockdown turned into fifty-four. Fifty-four days of extreme laughter, incredibly funny jokes and deepening the bond that I have with my sister. For the first time we go to be real siblings: terrorizing my brother, making fun of mom, baking cakes, celebrating birthdays and mother’s day, watching movies, having inside jokes, arguments over whose turn it is to do the dishes… Certain aspects like not having an income and missing my dogs were hard but I was where I was supposed to be in that season of life and I’m grateful everyday for it.