I am writing this from the bed of a hotel room in Poughkeepsie, NY, where Vassar College is located. Under normal circumstances, I would have just spent two weeks frolicking with my friends in the beautiful spring weather. During the interim between the end of classes and commencement weekend should be pure bliss. The actual circumstances, however, are a little more bleak. I just spent two days in a car with my dad, driving here from Iowa. Unfortunately, I was at home during spring break when we learned that we wouldn’t be going back to campus. I am here to retrieve my belongings from my dorm room, which I haven’t seen in roughly two and a half months. Not excited to see all of my now dead plants.
I’ve made this trip before, but never both ways. Usually my parents are either picking me up or dropping me off at Vassar. But this time, I have to suffer through four days in the car. We arrived in Poughkeepsie tonight, and tomorrow we pack up my room—within a designated 6 hour time slot that I had to sign up for. Then we turn around and drive all the way back. There will be no sleeping in my room, no hanging out on campus with my friends, no having a nice sit-down meal at one of the restaurants near Vassar. It’s a one-stop, in-and-out, hello-goodbye endeavor.
The whole trip has definitely been altered by the pandemic. Restaurants, even fast food chains, are exclusively drive-through and takeout. This sucks because usually meal times are the one respite from sitting in the car for hours at a time. Instead of taking a much-needed break to sit down and enjoy some Panera Bread, we pick up the food and keep going, eating in the car.
Another frustrating thing is that it’s impossible to avoid public spaces altogether. We have to stop at gas stations to the use the bathroom and get gas. We have to sleep in hotels, especially because Vassar has strictly forbidden that we stay overnight in our rooms. It’s not ideal to be traveling right now, but we didn’t really have a choice—all of my belongings, including valuables such as my guitar and my passport, are currently locked in Raymond 514.
However, we have been taking all the necessary precautions. Wearing masks at every stop and wiping down all the surfaces of the hotel room upon arrival. We get drive-through food with minimal contact with employees, and Vassar has organized the move-out so that there are limited people in each dorm at a time. We keep a safe distance of 6 feet from everybody.
Tomorrow we get up early to pack up my whole room and start the long drive back. While I’m glad Vassar organized a safe way for us to retrieve our stuff, I don’t want to be on campus. I know I will be reminded of the semester aI was supposed to have, the activities I was supposed to do, and the memories I was supposed to make.
I will see the beautiful campus, which is especially gorgeous in the spring. And think of all the flowers and trees I didn’t get to see bloom this year. This is a reality that all Vassar students and all college students must face. Maybe, just maybe, I will get a few minutes to walk around campus and sit on the quad. I am crossing my fingers for next year, when I am a senior, to get one last Vassar spring.