In light of recent developments (namely, the spread of COVID-19 and the unprecedented actions taken by university, state and national administrations), I thought it would be useful (or at least slightly entertaining) to keep a record of my day-to-day feelings and activities throughout this tumultuous time. Below is a small amount of my thoughts, actions and reflections during the first week of this new normal.
Wednesday, March 11: Day T-2
I went to class like normal, although the atmosphere was anything but. My professors mostly just went over how to access the online class forum. My one Spanish professor was especially undaunted: “We use Blackboard Collaborate, if that crashes we go to Google share, if that crashes we go to Zoom, if that crashes I call you all individually, make sure you pick up.” My political science professor who always cancels his 7:10 p.m. class naturally cancelled, so at 6:45 p.m. I was out with nothing to do but think about the impending end of life as we know it. I made plans to go back to my parents’ house in D.C. with my other roommate, Michelle, since her late-stay application had been denied. Then I went to sleep.
Thursday, March 12: Day T-1
I woke up late and started packing. I couldn’t decide what to bring and what to leave. How long would we be away from campus? When would we be allowed back? I tried to pack my heavier winter clothes to leave at my house as well as what I thought I would need for the coming weeks. Which shoes? What would I be doing? Have to bring all my medicine, but how many face products? Do I have room for my moisturizer AND toner? And what about my things? My books and pictures and writings? My jewelry? Should I pack like I’m fleeing a tragedy? Or will I be back on campus for classes in less than a month?
Around 4:00 p.m., one of my roommates received a call from her mother. From what I heard on one side of an animated conversation, the mother was convinced we were hours away from a full-on state-wide quarantine and had sent my roommate’s brother to pick her up immediately. Within the half hour she was packed and gone, leaving me and Michelle with a growing uneasy feeling.
Friday, March 13: Day 0
Maryland weather is anything but predictable, but the mid-70 degree heat did nothing to offset the whole palpable weirdness of packing the car to flee a pandemic.
Around lunchtime, Michelle and I decided to take a break. I wanted to eat food out of the refrigerator since we either had to bring it with us or throw it out, but Michelle pointed out there was little in there that was ready to eat. We decided to screw it and ordered a pizza and wings. Again, an unsettling feeling covered the entirety of the apartment as we ate in almost silence. It almost seemed sacrilegious to turn on our usual YouTube meal entertainment. We finished, threw out our trash and got back to packing.
By 5:00 p.m. we were all set. Everything was in the car, the apartment was more or less clean and we had nothing left to do. We looked around. We had spent the last seven months making this our home and it felt so… off to be so unceremoniously leaving it. The three lamps I had insisted we bring because the central lighting was so bad, the television where we watched Love Island and Letterkenny and some truly awful true crime documentaries, the patchwork wall of quotes and funny things that happened in our apartment, the Mr. Robot poster of Rami Malek’s face… no, wait, we need to bring Rami Malek’s face with us.
After Rami was safely packed away, we took another look around. Michelle and I each wrote a note on our large blackboard to our other roommate, the last remaining resident of the apartment. We walked down the stairs and got into our cars. Michelle followed me in her car as we said goodbye to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and turned out onto 95 South.
Saturday, March 14: Day 1
Being home went about as well as I expected. I woke up, got yelled at, had breakfast, drank coffee, played with my dog, etc. My aunt, who lived next door to us, had shaken hands with some government official who had later tested positive for coronavirus, so she, my uncle and my cousin were in a self-quarantine until March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. We had a nice conversation on our respective sides of the driveway.
After a slight altercation with my mother involving buttered toast, I fled the house with Michelle and my younger brother to downtown Silver Spring in an effort to continue my search for Bruce Springsteen albums. It wasn’t empty, but there was a different feeling in the air. We came home to my mother and father talking about what would happen if the state closed all restaurants. My father, a restaurant owner, remarked that there would be nothing to do except “sit back and watch our money hemorrhage.” Not to be incredibly narcissistic, but I’m starting to think law school might be more than a few years away after this fiasco.
Sunday, March 15: Day 2
Church was naturally cancelled, but my Catholic mother insisted we have a service of our own. It was a bit like pulling metaphorical teeth, since no one really wanted to be there and the dog kept going haywire when anyone walked in front of our yard.
After properly reflecting on the gospel, Michelle and I decided it was time to leave. We packed up her tiny car and fled the state to my parent’s house in Delaware, which is usually unoccupied at this time of the year. After a trip that took far too long (we had to stop for gas, a burrito and groceries), we arrived at an empty beach town in the evening.
Monday, March 16
Michelle and I woke up late. Why not? It’s like there’s a schedule to be followed here. We spent most of the day cleaning or surfing the internet. We organized the pantry, went through the fridge and freezer, cleaned both bathrooms, made food, did homework. At least my mother will be happy when she comes down.
Tuesday, March 17: Day 4
St. Patrick’s Day. My aunt was out of quarantine. Wawa is still open, though.
In more personal news, I’ve given up on physical appearance. I’ve got wispy baby hairs around my temples, and an almost undercut-type style going on in the back, which means that the best hairstyle to keep everything out of my face is a very high ponytail as well as a very low ponytail.
This is slowly turning into the new normal. I don’t know how I feel about it yet, but it doesn’t matter. At least the weird feeling has somewhat worn away. It’s since been replaced with a feeling of interest in the way we’re all going to look back on this time in the future.
Who knows what’s going to happen? Definitely not me. I’m just gonna sit here and pet my dog for a minute.