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MIT blogger Caroline P. '23

I moved to Maine by Caroline P. '23

just a wisconsin girl in an east coast world

HELLO.

So the last three weeks of my life have been absolutely FREAKING insane. As a brief overview, I have (in approximate order):

  • Decided I wasn’t going home
  • Packed up my entire dorm room
  • Walked through an airport wearing a facemark, gloves, and only black clothes (major apocalypse vibes)
  • Driven 24+ hours and 1000+ miles over the course of three days
  • Cried for about an hour on interstate 90 :(
  • Moved to Maine with twelve friends, where I’ll stay for at least for the next 2.5 months
  • Tried to establish a new normal in the middle of the woods

I’ve been here for about two weeks, dealing with different waves of grief and gratitude and exhaustion as they come. When things go wrong, I usually don’t feel emotions until I think I’m “safe”. I didn’t exactly feel “safe” until I’d spend a few days settling into the house, and I would argue for good reason. The ~week after we got the notice to move out was… a lot. The timeline is a little hard to explain just because sooooo much happened, but I’ll do my best.

Shortly after we were told to pack up, I had to make a decision: Go home to be with my family, or bug out with some friends who’d invited me to live with them somewhere on the east coast. I knew that not only I would be happier with my friends, but probably more productive if I had other MIT around to collaborate with. I remember my mom choking up over the phone, asking me to come home, and I remember telling her that even though I loved my family, I needed to be with East Campus folk. She’s a good mom; she understood. But then it was just me and a group of almost-equally-clueless college students, and we needed to figure it out all on our own. We needed…

  1. A house (something we can afford)
  2. A car
  3. A LORGE moving truck
  4. Enough WiFi for all 13 of us

Turns out these things aren’t super easy to come by! Regardless, we started embarking on the ridiculous quest of acquiring these resources.

First, we started looking for a house. It sucked, definitely one of the more stressful experiences in my life. BUT after two days we found a place that a) would allow us to move in right away, b) was big enough for everyone, and c) gave us a flexible move-out date. bLeSs tHe HoUsInG gOdS. Our host is suuuuupppeeerrrrr chill (like for real. Actual quote from a housemate: “I wouldn’t mind if he was our 14th roommate”). The house is 100+ years old, so it gets pretty cold in here. Good thing I’ve got the Wisco blood ;).

Ok, next is the car. The car was pretty much my responsibility because I already had one…. all the way back in Milwaukee. I knew what I needed to do, not just for the house but for my own independence and flexibility. Using some sweet sweet MIT refunds, I booked a flight home for 10:00 AM on Friday, March 13th, and flew home with an arsenal of masks, Clorox wipes, Purell, and surgical gloves. My sister pick me up at the airport. It was still so normal two weeks ago, just two sisters laughing at each other’s jokes and stopping at Culver’s for some milkshakes (if you don’t know Culver’s, YOU ARE MISSING OUT). I got home, showered, packed my bags, and left only an hour after I arrived. I don’t know when I’ll see my family again. I’m glad I got to be with them at least for a moment.

At 4:00 PM, I started my 18 hour solitary drive from Milwaukee to Boston, split over two days. I’ve never felt as alone as I did when I was driving through rural Ohio at midnight not another soul on the road with a nearly empty gas tank. I stopped in Cleveland for the night (my first time staying at a hotel alone) and started driving again at 9 AM. I got to East Campus at 6:30 PM that day. I remember smiling for the first time in days when I realized that some of my favorite people were only a staircase away. I’d written them little notes to fill my break times on my journey.

But when I finally dropped my duffle bag on hall carpet, I realized most of them were already gone. The moving timeline had accelerated, meaning many of my friends left suddenly and without saying goodbye. The folks that were still around sort-of welcomed me back, but it was so… casual? That hurt, a lot. Did no one care about I just went through? During the school year I would often sit alone in this room that belonged to my two good friends. When I went there to brood as I usually do, the speakers and string lights were gone. That’s when it finally hit me: This is a disaster, in the history-making sense. I’m not the only one who’s going through a lot; that’s the nature of disasters like this. You kind of just need to look out for yourself.

So the next day, we got the moving van. A friend and I arrived at a Uhaul store packed to the brim with masked and gloved individuals looking to flee Boston. We picked up a seriously massive 20 ft truck, brought it back, and rushed to finish packing up our entire lives. To break up the sadness of it all, me and my roommate decided to paint a mural on our door (sorry I don’t think I have a picture). I can’t even describe how grateful I was that she was still there in the last few grueling hours of hauling heavy boxes down flight after flight of stairs. Having someone you trust in your corner really matters when shit hits the fan, y’know? But, like everyone, she had to leave. I got a goodbye that time; turns out that saying goodbye is sometimes harder than the alternative. By 5:00 PM my housemates and I were on the road to Maine.

The next few days blurred together. Returning rental vehicles, setting up my room, organizing food, sending email after email to multiple departments at MIT to try and get wifi hotspots. Crushing fatigue, foggy emotional discomfort, grasping for a new sense of security and normalcy you all probably know these feelings as well as I do. And now, well… it’s “now”. I’m sitting on the couch by a sunny window, writing a blogpost and thinking about a to-do list that includes “takes out the trash” and “find a place you can study”.

Reading this blogpost so far, I see that it’s kind of bleak. Makes sense, global pandemic is a bleak thing my dudes. Don’t get me wrong, There are lots of silver linings to this abrupt transition. But honestly? I don’t feel like thinking about those at this exact moment. Usually I’m a pretty glass-half-full gal, but right now my cup’s just empty. And that’s okay. It’s okay for us to take time to just be sad; we don’t have to rush into “making the best of a bad situation”. Personally, I’m still grieving what I’ve lost: The home I was just starting to establish at MIT and EC, the friends I won’t see for a long time, the freedom to live my life normally hell, the trust I had in the universe. I believed the world and the people in it would make sense when I needed them to, and I’ve learned the hard way that they just… don’t.

Pushing through the thick cocoon of melancholy to write this post hasn’t been easy. I guess I need to resume living at some point though, and I guess that needs to happen today because classes start on Monday which is, believe it or not, tomorrow. Like, there are psets to be done :/. Now that I’m pretty much done writing, I think I feel a little better. It’s nice to think someone might be listening as I scream into the internet’s void.

I’ll continue to keep you guys updated on life in the woods, hopefully in better spirits. Stay safe <3.