Column: Attempting To Reclaim Time With Friends Lost To The Pandemic

In September of last year, I moved into a house with seven people who I barely knew, just a few minutes away from my classes at Hofstra University. It was a last-minute decision after my original plans for living off-campus fell through, and I was apprehensive, to say the least. It quickly turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, though, as these strangers became some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

I’ve always wanted the kinds of friendships that I was blessed enough to form this year. I’m incredibly grateful for them, so I’ve tried to spend as much time as possible with my housemates, especially as two of them are set to graduating this spring. As classes started again in February, I expected to continue all the fun we had in the previous semester and make the absolute most of our last few months together.

Of course, my forecast for the spring semester became a chimera as the coronavirus outbreak turned our lives upside down. Once Hofstra announced that classes would be online indefinitely, we reluctantly moved back into our family homes “until things get better again.”

As the pandemic only worsened, the hypothetical date for that moved from April 12 to May 1, and finally to May 15. By the time that we could start realistically planning for May 15, though, only a few of us were able to convince their parents to let us come back at all.

With Long Island’s reputation as one of the regions struggling most with the coronavirus, their fears were understandable, and the four of us who still planned on coming back knew that we would have to cautiously make the most of a small window of time to reunite and say our last goodbyes.

Bringing our face masks and enough food for two weeks, Kate, Yanni, Hailey and I arrived back at our house on the morning of May 16. As a graduating senior, Hailey focused on packing up her room for good. But we enjoyed as much of each other as possible for the few days that she could stay, hanging out and reminiscing for hours on end.

The rest of us plan to stay for a full two weeks, based on the “14-day rule” for quarantining after possible exposure to the coronavirus. We can’t see any new people, so it won’t be the return to normal that I imagined back in March; still, being around two of the people I’ve been missing most is so much better than yet another day of lying about in my childhood bedroom. The change in the environment itself feels like a much-needed break from a now-monotonous feeling of existential dread.

I worry that we might be totally reckless, but I think we needed to attempt a real end to our year together. Plus, we all needed to pack up our rooms anyway. If we stick together and continue to follow social distancing guidelines, I know I won’t regret the risk we’re cautiously taking.

Everything has felt very bittersweet, but I’m glad I get just a little more time with the people who have been there for me throughout this school year and made my college experience so much richer overall. We missed out on a lot in the past few months, but trying to salvage a portion of it has felt worth the effort. 

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Katie Fenton
Katie Fenton is an Anton Media Group contributing writer.

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