when apocalypse strikes… by Ankita D. '23
on being preemptively torn from my home, living group, and nearly everything i love at MIT
This week, hands down, has been the most chaotic one of my life. I feel like I’ve lived so much in such a short span of time, which makes sense, I guess; I DID manage to cram two months worth of memories into less than five days. I screamed in anguish with my friends on the lawn in front of the big dome got a spontaneous tattoo of a bomber plane on my arm, perfected the art of making last-minute plans with people, attended a ton of floor events, cried dozens of times, and partied like the world was ending—because hey, maybe it really is.
I don’t know about what it was like at other colleges, but it felt like utter madness at MIT. People went fucking insane. There were parties on Killian Court and in lecture halls; there was music playing at 4 am on Dorm Row and people screaming as they bolted down the Infinite hallway. Everyone just didn’t give a damn about anything anymore.
The morning before the email about us having to leave campus was released, screenshots with rumors about the details of MIT’s potential shutdown were circulated around group chats. We all put on our conspiracy theorist hats and started to rapidly oscillate between wanting to wait until official confirmation of everything we were hearing and wanting to fucking panic about our living situations for the next few months. My perspective may have been colored by this chaos, but when I stepped outside, I felt as if the air was rife with tension and an impending sense of doom. Everything seemed strained, as if we could sense how much the upcoming email could change our lives.
It’s crazy how quickly people can come together once shit hits the fan. As soon as the email came out, all our internal clocks started ticking. I burst into tears when I finally processed the fact that my time with my living community would be cut short, that I would be robbed of all the things I had been looking forward to and maybe even the relationships I could have built given a little more time. As I literally wept in the center suite of my floor, a senior took my hand and told me that she wished we could have spent more time together, which was crushingly sad but also inspiring; I resolved to make the most of my remaining days so that I’d have no regrets.
For context, I live in Burton-Conner, a dorm that’s closing down until my senior year for renovations. For floors like mine with strong communities, being split up for two years—preemptively, at that—is nothing but painful. The seniors got to experience four-ish years on the floor, but the sophomores and juniors are being wrenched from their homes with no possibility of return. It’s truly heart-rending.
But given the extenuating circumstances, we all RALLIED. The floor chairs called a meeting the night The Email was sent out, and we put together an impromptu schedule for the next few days that would enable us to spend as much time as possible together.
And damn, did we manage to do it. On Wednesday, we elected our new floor chairs and spent a lot of time together as a floor. The freshman girls also painted records for the senior girls; I decided to paint mine for the senior who had comforted me when the news broke the previous day. I didn’t have much time to spend with her, but I sure as hell could channel my heart and soul into painting her a cool galaxy [email protected][email protected]!
But saying goodbye to the first person to leave broke all of our hearts. We crowded by the elevators to hug him, and when he left, someone said “and now we have to do this 30 more times!” Cue an 18th round of tears…
On Thursday, we had a barbeque bonding with another floor and then our floor formal. Formal is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while, so I’m really glad I was able to experience it. Afterward, I y e e t e d to my last dance practice in my heels and got to dance with my team one last time :’) That night, though, we received an email telling us to get the hell out of Dodge by Sunday. I thought it was optional, so I didn’t think much of it, but a lot of my friends started moving up their plans. The chaos only intensified.
The next day, which would be my final full day at MIT, I woke up at 2 pm and spent a few hours packing. The whole time, I felt numb; my mind kept flashing back to too-recent memories of moving in, and I could only feel a conviction that what I was doing wasn’t right. I started to document some parts of my floor, including my room, kitchen, hallway, all of which were spaces I had taken for granted but now ones I desperately wanted to preserve in my mind forever.
In the evening, I found out that Nisha and I were leaving on Saturday morning instead of Monday afternoon in accordance with MIT’s push for accelerated move-out plans. When the realization that I had even less time than anticipated set in, I felt wracked with a convulsive pain; this truly was the final blow. I was determined to stay for the last two floor events, and knowing that I’d be leaving earlier than most of the people on the floor hurt like hell.
So I proceeded to get a tattoo and then party until 3 am! #endoftheworldthings
We managed to get our final events together before I had to leave on Saturday morning, for which I am eternally grateful. And honestly, I have no more regrets. It’s taken a lot of time for me to process my emotions, but I’m ready to stop focusing on how my community will no longer be living on our floor and to start embracing my new situation. Sure, I’m not going to live on my floor for the next two and a half years, but the culture and friendships built there will last. Being home in New Hampshire will definitely be lonely, and I’ll miss my friend groups and activities, but I have so many people to support me through this period—and so many people to help support.
Even a day ago, thinking about all the good memories I’ve had on my floor and how I won’t be able to be around my friends anymore made me tear up. Now, I’m just really freaking happy that I was able to experience it all. I have no idea what the rest of the semester will be like, or what I’m doing this summer (rip my MISTI plans), but knowing that some of my closest friends, who are staying near campus, are just a bus ride away is really reassuring. Everything’s going to be ok!!
Isn’t it scary how a few weeks ago, COVID-19 seemed like nothing but a distant threat? All the plans that have been dashed in a matter of days are crazy to think about. But hey, life goes on. We’re kind of more specifically, we have <a href="https://facultygovernance.mit.edu/rules-and-regulations#2-64">alternate emergency grades</a> of PE, NE, and IE, PE being an A, B, or C level performance, NE being a D or F level one, for which there will be no record on your transcript, and IE indicating an incomplete subject so the burden of enduring all this has been slightly alleviated, and we’ll be back in Fall ‘20 in full force.
Admits, congrats and welcome to the MIT community! I hope, for all of your sakes, that your time at MIT isn’t ever as chaotic as this. It’s been a wild, wild ride, and I’ve forged countless strong friendships along the way, but god, would I appreciate some semblance of normalcy.
I don’t know what I’m going to miss most. Will it be the sense of community and family of living on my floor, or the little things, like the ability to waltz into any suite at 3 a.m. and share profound thoughts with my friends over a pint of ice cream? Or the giant beanbag on which my roommates and I have slept on more times than we’ve all slept in our beds? Or the slightly sticky floor of the lounge that never ceases to alarm me, but also reminds me of the day I was initiated as a member of my floor? Or maybe the orange and black tiles of the hallway that I was once pushed down in a laundry cart, or the beautiful murals that I researched to write this post, or the midnight tabletop dance parties and pounding music and feelings of pure liberation.
I don’t know what I’ll miss most, I really don’t. And everything is painful and bittersweet, but I’m at peace knowing that I’ve already made enough memories this year to last me a lifetime.