COVID-19 Diary: Moving back home in a pandemic

When I arrived home with two cars full of my things packed in boxes, my mom immediately bombarded me with plans for where my things could go and how I could start unpacking. 

“We have you until August now,” my parents joked. 

I had a hard time finding it funny. In the middle of the second semester of my junior year, I had packed up my apartment in a matter of days to move back in with my parents for an indefinite amount of time. Already overwhelmed by new online assignments and uncertainty over my summer plans, I was now away from my friends and lacking the privacy I’ve been accustomed to. 

As I reluctantly unloaded my things, I silently hoped that things would improve sooner than August and I could get back to Macon.

When I heard about COVID-19 for the first time, I fell victim to the popular statement that it was just a slightly more severe flu. I even thought that the virus had been misrepresented because of its origins in another country. The coming pandemic didn’t begin to feel real until I returned from Spring Break the first week of March.

I took a trip to Tampa, Fla. over the break. A few days before we planned to leave, someone sent a message to our travel group of fifteen that the first case of COVID-19 had appeared in Tampa. We joked about needing to stay home, only partially serious in our fear of the virus that would suspend our classes a week later. 

After returning from break, things changed quickly in one week of classes. On Tuesday, I remember rolling my eyes as a class discussion in my foreign policy course turned to the coronavirus. By Thursday, we were deciding plans for moving the same class to online instruction. 

At first, I thought suspension of classes and a move to online would be temporary. As more students left campus and the World Health Organization designated COVID-19 as an official pandemic, the reality settled in that my classes would probably never meet again and maybe I had seen some of my friends for the last time without knowing it would be the last. 

I miss my friends, my campus and the little things like my preferred grocery store. I’m still holding on to hope of making it back to Macon soon, even if ‘soon’ starts to look more like August.