I returned to Ann Arbor from Spring Break with a bruised heart and hanging hopes for the rest of the semester. My Monday morning 8:30 am class proved to be a more demanding challenge than usual, as my tan was still settling into my skin. That day, I walked to and from my classes for the last time and called my mom, crying about the events that happened on the trip a week prior.
The emerging pandemic was not on my mind Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of that last week, before the world came crumbling down. I was focusing on how to move out of my sorority house for the rest of the semester after being traumatized on my Spring Break trip and how to survive 3 more months living at school. The idea of not continuing the semester, in Ann Arbor, was incomprehensible. My world had shattered, and I had a short amount of time before the rest of the world did, too.
On Monday, I slept at my friend’s place. I was too afraid to sleep alone.
On Tuesday, I arranged to sublet a lease from a senior in my sorority for April and May, to finish out the semester in Ann Arbor.
On Wednesday, I had my last in-person Writing class, when we had a small discussion about the future of the semester. Everybody was confident that the semester would continue, but we never saw one another face-to-face again. I spent my night hammering out the details of my lease, anxious to find somewhere I felt safe to live. Little did I know, I would be going home very shortly.
On Thursday, I had my last class at the university for the remainder of the semester. The 8:30 am class made me bitter to be awake, and I walked out of the class thinking of my problems alone. Had I given that last moment with my teacher another thought, I’d have spent a few more moments in the building. I gave him no goodbye, no thank you, nothing to leave him with as we split into the developing pandemic. I wish I could have thanked all of my teachers, face-to-face, before fleeing out of their classrooms.
When I woke up again later that day, I found out from social media that classes had been cancelled. Dazy from my nap, I laid in bed and scrolled through Twitter, Snapchat, and even Gmail to confirm over, over, and over that classes were, in fact, cancelled.
With no plans of moving into a lone apartment anymore, I felt a weight flee from my shoulders. Immediately though, another weight was moved onto my chest, unknowing what the hell I would do now. A personal catastrophe suddenly felt trivial, as it was clear that everyone around me – hell, the entire world – was now going through a universal calamity. I still wish I hadn’t spent my last week on campus so bitter and so broken, focusing on all of the hatred I felt in the world.
On Friday, I packed up my room in the sorority house. I left without any warm goodbyes, a half of a semester’s load of work to do from home, and an anxiety building inside me so great, that I had to pull over on the highway during my drive home.
Back home, there was no more spirit of the “Victors and Best” breathing inside of me. I couldn’t work for hours like I had in the Ugli, I couldn’t read for pleasure under the trees like I did in the Diag, and I couldn’t just scroll on my phone like I’d return to school happily in the Fall. In my mind, there would be no more normal days ever again.
To some extent, that ended up being true. Still, even though months have passed and the pandemic persists, the migration of Michigan students crawling back to campus, moving boxes into too-small Ann Arbor houses for the fall term sends a wistful hope inside me. Maybe in a long while, after the leaves have fallen around red solo cups and the brass block Diag M, the city will start to feel Normal again.
This piece is part of our series, “The Last Normal Day”. This series aims to encourage writers to effectively screenshot their last ‘normal’ day before the pandemic hit. If you would like to write a piece for the series, please submit it under our “Blog Submissions” tab on our website and add a note that you would like the piece to be considered for “The Last Normal Day”.