UD student remembers 2020 with a sense of melancholy

Allison Ladd shares the darkest, and the brightest, moments of her 2020.

Shea Donovan | Contributing Writer

As the country is beginning to look forward to hugging our loved ones and celebrating milestones together again, we are also reflecting on what the last year of our lives has looked like.

Conversations through windows, hugs through plastic curtains, celebrations through Zoom. The uncertainty, fear and pain that was almost tangible, but also the growth that was life-changing.

Allison Ladd is among University of Dayton students looking back on the past year with mixed feelings of sadness and gratitude, but looking toward the future with a whole lot of hope.

Photo provided by Ladd.

On February 28, 2020, Ladd was fleeing South Korea as the borders were beginning to close. Like so many others, her study abroad experience came to an abrupt end in the midst of a powerfully growing pandemic.

Sitting in Incheon International Airport, Ladd recalls listening to Lady Gaga’s just released song, ‘Stupid Love.’ She didn’t realize at the time just how impactful that song would soon become.

“The song came out right when we were at the airport,” Ladd said. “I remember listening to it and feeling happy for the first time that day.”

Today, ‘Stupid Love’ is one of the sounds she associates most with the pandemic. That song, and the smell of jet fuel, continue to bring back strong memories for Ladd.

“While I haven’t been on a plane since then, my sister and I noted once that we smelled something on the highway that smelled like the fuel planes use, and I immediately was thrown back to my experience in February,” Ladd said.

Recalling the early pandemic days back in the states, Ladd remembers game nights on Zoom and holidays without extended family, noting that while isolation made it difficult to maintain close contact with her loved ones in traditional ways, it didn’t keep them from connecting in still meaningful ways.

“We would all be able to catch up and see each other’s faces, even if it was through a screen,” Ladd said. “While it was not the same as an in-person event, we made the best of the situation and had fun in the process.”

As more and more people are getting vaccinated, her and her family among them, Ladd is looking toward the future with a newfound sense of optimism. She anticipates the moments of hugging and reconnecting with extended family and looks forward to the days she can continue exploring the globe with loved ones by her side.

Reflecting on the past year brings up overwhelming emotions and countless memories, but the heartache isn’t without hope.

“I make an effort to not just think about the bad things, but the good things too; about how everyone has become a more resilient version of themselves and should be proud for simply making it through,” Ladd said.

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