A Day in the Life of a Quarantined College Student

As the school year begins, the United States enters its seventh month of quarantine. Our two-week-long spring faded into summer, and then once again into fall. The memories of my past life––rushing to a job, then class, then a various extracurricular or social activity, all maskless––have faded into a hazy memory. This Thursday, I jotted down notes from my day. If nothing else, perhaps one day this will serve as a memento to the strange and directionless time I spent in the confines of my apartment.

7:34 am –– I wake up on the ground of my apartment. The blinds are closed––something I rarely did in the past, but living on the ground floor of an old building makes it a necessary precaution. I roll on my side, making direct eye contact with my phone that slept next to me. It’s too early to be up. I cough slightly, wondering if the tickle in the back of my throat has to do with the horrendous air quality or if I finally got it. Slowly, I get out of bed and pull open the blinds. The sky is an ashy gray.

8:00 am –– Class starts and I am sitting on the floor of my bedroom with my laptop propped up on the empty bed frame. The mattress I ordered was supposed to come on Saturday. Nevertheless, a designated corner of my room equipped with pillows and an old mattress pad has become my makeshift classroom.

It’s a film class and we’re talking about horror––my favorite. I don’t like unmuting myself in a big class, though; there is nothing quite as embarrassing as talking over someone else because you can’t see your screen. My prime contribution for the day is recommending ‘Burn After Reading’ in the chat box.

10:37 am –– I make the long trek through campus to the bookstore. On the way, I see hoards of freshmen eating and talking with their masks hanging around their chins. I can’t blame them, exactly. With that first taste of real freedom that comes with moving out, they are packed like sardines in a ten-story building...and then the college tells them they better not socialize or else. Still, though, they make me nervous.

11:17 am –– Fresh out of snacks, I move past campus and toward the grocery store. The world beyond SU is weird, too. In the first weeks of quarantine, there was absolutely no foot traffic. The week before I left for spring quarter, I picked up pizza from Southpaw––a local (and very good) restaurant right next to campus. Standing in the middle of stacked chairs and boarded windows, the song ‘Southern Nights’ by Glen Cambell began to play, and it felt like the end of the world.

Now, people are outside again. Living in a city notorious for its lack of sun, our apartments suddenly cook us alive on hot days. The only escape is out. The only problem is that there is absolutely nowhere to go. If businesses aren’t completely out of business, they’re partially closed or at limited capacity. This means there are people just wandering the streets, milling about. If March felt like a ghost town, this feels like walking through a zombie apocalypse--what feels like our new normal.

1:29 pm –– I rush into my room, making it just in time for class to begin.

1:40 pm –– My roommate opens my door and informs me that my mattress has arrived and is waiting for me in the hallway. In a perhaps less than professional move, I turn my camera off and rush to the door. I cannot go another day without a mattress. The two of us drag the box into the center of my room and I am left to my own devices. As my professor goes over the syllabus, I rip open the cardboard box and struggle to fit my mattress into the bedframe. It is a perfect fit, spilling over the edges of the frame if not jammed in at the perfect angle. By the time I get it situated, class is over and I am sweating. I wonder if I should send my professor an email.

3:29 pm –– Thursday marks the end of the school week for me. It’s been a long, hard two-day week. I am exhausted. I start a three-hour-long movie but don’t have time to finish it.

6:08 pm –– I meet a friend in Cal Anderson and we drink bubble tea. Cal Anderson (formerly known as CHAZ and then CHOP) was the hub for Black Lives Matter protests all summer. I remember attending community meetings and witnessing a union between Santa and Darth Vadar. Less fondly, I remember being tear-gassed as I stood on the mural that read BLACK LIVES MATTER.  My friend and I talk about the evils of capitalism and how the world is coming to a fiery end around us. And a little about Bojack Horseman.

8:34 pm –– I come home to the smell of homemade pesto. My roommates have cooked dinner, and we all sit down under the warm, red light of our living room. Our little basement apartment feels completely timeless; it sort of feels like 6:00 pm all day. We sit around and also talk about the evils of capitalism and how the world is coming to a fiery end around us.

11:03 pm –– I retreat back to my room and decide that I hate everything about the way it looks. I move all the big pieces of furniture and rip decorations off the wall. The bright, white light that beams down at me from the ceiling is awful, but there’s nothing I can do about it at the moment.

12:12 am –– Finally, I am satisfied. I curl up in my big bed, happy to be off the floor for the first time in nine days. I finish the long movie.

3:04 am –– After tossing and turning and watching the first couple minutes of ‘Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle’, I decide that I officially cannot sleep. Instead, I take my loose notes and write something semi-coherent about my day.