It was March 11, 2020. I was sitting in a nail shop with my friend getting our nails done because it was spring break. Next thing you know, I get an email saying that campus is closing effective the following week. Students were able to come in groups by odd floor numbers, then even floor numbers to get their stuff and move out.
I was shocked and confused but also excited because I wouldn’t have to get up early anymore. My sophomore year was coming to a somewhat early close. But through all these emotions I hit a rock with my foot messing up my pedicure and causing my toe to bleed — right outside the shop too.
I went home and my parents and I discussed the email and my options. I still had work back at school at the time, so I applied to stay on campus with the knowledge that I still had a job and I had a shift that following week. I was accepted to stay on campus during quarantine because of my situation.
I got back to school and my boyfriend at the time’s mom picked me up from the airport. She brought me home to my dorm. I had just gotten a car a few weeks back so I went to the store and got some groceries.
I got to my job at the mall a few days later. As soon as I arrived, I was told: “So, Clarke, we’re closing in 30 minutes for at least a month!” Once again, I was shocked, confused, and didn’t know how to feel. I talked it through with my manager, and he said we were still getting paid for our scheduled shifts so that was nice at the time.
As weeks go by, I’m sitting in my dorm doing online classes, walking to my boyfriend's apartment across the street and staying a few days at a time, watching a lot of movies, helping a friend move into an apartment and meeting her new puppy, and hanging with another friend who stayed and was moved to the room across the hall from mine.
It was boring, I felt alone very often, and I learned a lot about myself and how I like to spend my time. My relationships became strained, I was struggling to get an internship that was online for the summer, I was trying to figure out how to save my money and become more financially stable… it was all a lot happening at once.
In mid-May, I unfortunately had to go home because I didn’t have a reason to stay over the summer on campus. Summer work positions weren’t open since campus was closing for those who didn’t already have jobs such as RA’s, desk workers, and the summer furniture crew. All the internships I had applied to closed since for most places, employees were going to work from home. I also still hadn’t gotten my job back nor were we getting paid anymore (yes, I did claim unemployment). I almost got broken up with a few days before leaving, but we figured out a compromise - although we are now just good friends, I will always love him and will take him back any day.
It was a lot, my mental health has really strained since the beginning of the pandemic. I started seeing a therapist and learned a lot about myself since that made sense; I have anxiety. I never really understood why I had the feelings I did but I now understand.
This pandemonium has been a lot and I would love for it to come to an end soon.
— Clarke Taylor, 20
St. Louis, Missouri