It’s 6am and the warm, morning light streams in through the slits of my window shades. I squint at the pale, white wall, tug my eye mask down over my eyes, and roll over. An hour later, I wake up and listen to the silence. College students tend not to get noisy before 10am. This is my favorite time of day because the air is cool and crisp and the campus is abandoned. I pull on green sweatpants, the common choice of college females, and an oversized sweatshirt. I walk down the stairs and out the heavy, locking door. The air feels so wonderful and I pull my mask down beneath my nose to take in the smell of the crisp morning. It can’t hurt to get one sniff before recovering my face, can it? I look around hoping I am alone and I am. I walk in this sleeping world and think of how empty it is. Yet, in the middle of the day, with the persistent heat and chattering students, it still feels empty.
Mid-day, I pass peers, looking at their SCU sweatshirts, pants, shoes, hair and finally eyes. I watch their mannerisms and how they fidget with their hands. I am searching for traces of who I am living with, who I take classes with, and who might look back into my eyes and smile. Although, you must pay close attention, for you may miss the skin wrinkling beside their eyes as their mask covers their white teeth. I do not know how to say hello or how to meet anyone organically. The small, bonding moments of using a microwave or passing someone on the sidewalk have lost their warm connection and I feel robotic. I grab my to-go box filled with pesto pasta and then turn to go back to my dorm. I pass groups of people. How do they know one another? We just arrived. Are they already friends? Who are my friends? I scan my access card and take the stairs up and through the empty halls. We are not allowed to bring friends into these halls. I am once again in the sanctity of my dorm and my colorful covers seem to embrace me. “This too shall pass,” they say. I believe them and sit down to eat, facing the wall. I have homework and so I do it, I have class and so I take it in the same chair I ate lunch in. I feel as though I may as well be staring at the same wall I ate lunch with. I wonder if a friend would compliment my colorful comforter and talk about the pasta we ate.
[bf_image id="rwcqm6kkfvvkbgzwv9shnsr"] The day soon approaches late afternoon, although I have no real concept of time in this room. I lose myself in a fictional novel. I am always uneasy when reading about human touch, interaction and the small movements of facial expressions which seem to no longer exist. I look out my window into the parking lot which is blanketed in a fading, exhausted blue sky. I understand how the sky feels. I pick up my to-go dinner, marinara pasta. I watch the cherry blossoms and the rose buds and the wisteria smile at me, and so, I smile back. I stop for a moment and I exist with them. After all, what rush am I in? The perfume of the overflowing purple buds can be smelled even beneath my mask but I am too tempted to lift the cloth and breathe it in.
I am accompanied at my dining room table by my white wall. Groundhogs day is a term I did not understand until Covid-19 overturned my world. I curl up into my bed, knowing that my cycle will repeat itself tomorrow. Perhaps I shall bring a blanket and eat breakfast with the wisteria in the morning.