Michigan State University
$1,500 Scholarship and Hearst Medallion
STORY: The Clarkston, Michigan home of my uncle, Brad Antaya, 47, has been a transitory place for me the past 4 years. My mother relocated to California in 2016 and I moved my belongings to Brad’s. In between my time spent studying at university and working internships, I have stayed with my uncle for no more than a few weeks at a time. The COVID-19 pandemic changed this on March 12, 2020 when my home university required me to return as soon as possible to the U.S. from studying abroad in Denmark. Since March 16, 2020, I have been staying with Brad. While I have gotten past mourning the loss of my time abroad, I am now beginning to fully appreciate developing my relationship with my uncle during this unprecedented time.
Caption: The house and pole barn that my uncle, Brad Antaya, works as a mechanic in is pictured in Clarkston, Michigan.
Brad Antaya, 47, poses for a portrait after coming home from golfing with his cousin, brother and nephew (Nic Antaya, the photographer). Since I moved in with Brad, we have embraced doing activities that bring us closer together. Since the restrictions on COVID-19 have eased, we golf every Sunday with my father and my second cousin.
Nic Antaya (I, the photographer) poses for a self portrait in his room at his uncle’s home. Since I returned from studying abroad in Denmark to Michigan, I have been staying in the room that my 16-year-old cousin, Lindy, used to stay in before my aunt and uncle separated in 2018. Since 2018, my uncle has lived alone. Living here hasn’t felt like “home” until recently. It took a while to feel settled in. I’m not sure why I haven’t removed the letters from the door yet.
Brad squeezes dressing onto two bowls of salad as a side dish for dinner with me. My uncle hasn’t made me pay rent since I’ve returned back to the U.S. As a result, I’ve tried to help out in ways that make his life easier - such as making dinner. At first, I was doing the majority of the cooking. Now, we both bring our favorite dishes to the table. We eat dinner together every night. This provides a comfort and sense of routine to my life.
Workout equipment sits in the living room at Brad’s home. For my first two weeks home from Denmark, I lacked any sort of routine. Working out was a good first step in creating a routine. It helps boost my overall sense of well being and confidence in myself. My uncle joined me in working out and it has furthered our relationship.
Brad pulls off his sweatshirt while working late into the night in his pole barn. Some nights, he works until 2 or 3 a.m. Considering that Brad has been a mechanic since 1994, I always figured he loves what he does. During our time in quarantine together, we have learned more about each other. I found out being a mechanic is not his passion, but rather just a way to earn a living. “It’s just a job, really,” Brad said.
Brad video chats with his girlfriend, Jen, who he started talking with in the beginning of April through the online dating application, OKCupid. After 20 years of marriage, he has been separated from my aunt for 2 years. Brad video chats with Jen every night. I’m happy to see him happy. I’m glad he met someone who he feels he has a genuine connection and future with.
The driveway leading to Brad’s house splits in two directions. Living in quarantine with my uncle was unexpected. I didn’t know I would be returning to the U.S. so soon from my time abroad in Denmark. The time we have together now will be something we will remember and reflect upon for years to come. Although our paths will eventually split, we will never lose the memories we have created together.