Prepare yourself for a minimum of 13 consecutive days’ worth of blogging, because I’ve got very little else to do.
The first edition is a double-header, mostly because yesterday was so full that I could not have written the Day 1 post. Not the right headspace, and no real time to do it in.
Anyway! The title should have clued you in, but I am currently sitting on campus in Canada wrapping up my second day of mandatory self-isolation. My first (technical) day was yesterday, but it’s been my first full 24 hours on campus doin’ the quarantine thing.
Regardless of the status of my isolation yesterday, it was QUITE the eventful day, so prepare yourself for the story.
I had packed everything (except, you know, my toothbrush and such) on Thursday, so yesterday I woke up at 5:30 am, brushed my teeth, shoved my pajamas, toothbrush, and deodorant into a full-to-bursting bag, put said bag in a car, and my mom and I pulled out of our driveway at 6:00 am. Pleasant? No. Time efficient? Yes.
We made our way across the state at a decent clip (early morning travel will do that for ya). It all went fine. Briefly saw some family on the west side, ate lunch, and continued North to the border.
It was all uneventful until the border, but my tightly-capped nervousness became … less-tightly-capped the closer to the border we got. Why, you ask? Well:
- Walking across the border is weird. How many people walk across the border? Where do you even go to walk across?
- Two suitcases, a box, and a backpack is a lot of stuff and it’s not super secure. Unwieldy, even. How far would I have to walk? Could I even take all of it in one trip?
- What was I forgetting?
- Passport? Oh, yeah, I checked a billion times, little pocket in my backpack.
- SPECIAL COVID PAPERWORK? Oh, yeah, there’s the confirmation number.
- What if they wanted some proof of enrollment? I wasn’t sure what constituted that. My visa is enough, right?
- Or proof that some of my classes are in-person? I could show them the university site where it says which ones are in-person, but is that authoritative enough?
- My pillow was going to fall on the ground, I was sure of it, then I’d have a dirty pillow to sleep on. Ew.
- Where was my friend going to park to pick me up on the other side?
- What if we couldn’t find OUR parking lot? What then?
The list goes on. I’ll spare you. It occurs to me that I may not have laid out on this blog why I had to walk across the border; a brief explanation: visa makes me an essential traveler, mom has no visa, I have no car, we’re in the same vehicle, I can cross and she can’t – hence the drop off/pick up situation.
Anyway! My mother and I get to the border and park where we thiiink we’re supposed to, firmly on the US side. My mother informs me that I need to go inside and ask for confirmation that we’re in the right place and directions on what to do next.
“I can’t do this for you,” she says.
This is where I have my first, little tiny meltdown. It involves me standing outside my open car door and cackling anxiety-fueled cackles, bracing myself with my hands on my thighs.
I straighten, take a deep breath, pop on my mask and go inside. The US border patrol agent is very nice (I think it was mostly because I radiated anxiousness at a level that could kill, but I don’t want to discredit his kindness) and gives me very clear directions: yes, we are parked in the correct place. There are two ways I can walk to get to the Canadian side, and here is where I should enter that building to check in with the border agents there.
Excellent. Very good, sir.
I go back to the car and, since I am somewhat incapable of making any sort of decision, my mom tells me which way I should go up to the Canadian side. We get my stuff out, I put my visa and passport in my pocket, along with my phone with my COVID paperwork pre-loaded, I hug my mom, and I start up the sidewalk.
I have to go through the US border patrol building again on my way – as I go, there are three officers. None who I spoke to earlier.
“Do you know where you’re going?” They ask. I think I look like the answer is a very firm “no.”
“I think so, but some confirmation would be nice. I’m need to go check in on the Canadian side?”
The center border patrol agent comes around to point the way, giving me another set of explicitly clear (and deeply appreciated) directions. I start to go, but my box (inevitably) falls off my wheelie suitcase.
“It was going to happen, it was inevitable.” It would sound more like a joke if everything I said wasn’t coming out so darn nervous and shaky!
“Maybe if you put it vertically … ?” The border patrol agent says.
I try it. It falls again. “Nope, I think I had it the first time. Thank you so much for your help.”
I start up the sidewalk again, now officially on the Canadian side.
The walk isn’t very long – the two buildings are on the same border, after all – but my stuff is so big and heavy, and the box and pillow tower is so precarious, and the sidewalk is so uneven that I have to move at a very slow pace.
I pass more border patrol agents on my walk. I obviously have a mission; they don’t stop me, but they do watch, and I see one of them wince when my pillow falls. (Another inevitability).
It takes me probably in between seven and ten minutes to get to the Canadian border building. I wrestle me and all of my stuff inside and wait. They notice me, but a family is doing what looks to be the same thing I am, so I can’t be helped.
I chose to wear my glasses, and they won’t stop fogging up; between my mask and my sweat from my comically difficult journey to where I stand, it’s futile to try and see through them. I finally take them off in a huff. Who needs distance vision, anyway?
Another agent comes out and, after wiping everything down, calls me over.
The actual processing process was very simple; no searches, just questions. My paperwork was all in order. He went over the rules for quarantine and confirmed my plan to get picked up by my friend. And that was that.
Now, to get picked up by my friend.
This was the next roadblock, though minor. There was no clear place for her to park, but five minutes on the phone later we’d figured it out and I got myself and my things loaded into her car. Per instructions, we were masked, she was gloved, and she had sectioned off her front and back seats and truly chauffeured me to school.
How did she section off her seats, you ask? Well:
Feast your eyes on the Quarantine Transportation Situation! (Have I used that phrase approximately fifty-million times since I got into the truck? Yes. And I intend to continue doing so).
We had a minor snafu attempting to turn around, since the border is a one-way traffic sort of thing, but there were agents turning us around and it all worked out rather simply.
By this point, I was finally calm. I was over the border, I had all my things, and I was on my way to school. I called my mom, letting her know it was all good, and she finally left the US side of the border to get home. My friend turned on her musicals playlist. I watched the familiar sights of my second home appear out the window and started to feel like it wouldn’t be so bad.
I got too comfortable too quickly!
We pulled into the parking lot of the dorm building I was told to go to for my self isolation. I decide to run in and check on my room; I only get as far as the exterior door, which has several COVID related signs, including one that says “do not enter if you are self-isolating.”
Well, problem is that I am supposed to be in there self isolating, as far as I’m aware. So I shrug and enter, not even feeling very bad about it since I have freshly sanitized hands.
Next roadblock comes when I get to my actual room, though, because it’s totally locked. Whole place, locked and dark as the inside of a cow. It feels … incorrect.
So I go back out to the car and start calling people. Everyone I’ve been in contact with about housing, coming back, and quarantine gets a call. No one answers, it’s after working hours on a Friday.
So, out of options and not particularly interested in being homeless for the night, I call security. They come and open the room. Great. Have to pee, bathroom’s locked, call again, they send someone. Friend makes sure I’m in with all my stuff and all good and leaves.
(I never did get to pee, because … )
One of the people I called frantically prior to turning to security calls back!
“Hey, did you get everything figured out okay?”
“Well, I’m not sure. I am sitting on a bed right now, but I don’t know if it’s the one I’m supposed to be sitting on.”
“Oh, okay. Where are you, exactly?”
I tell her the building and room number.
“Hm … you … shouldn’t be there, I don’t think.”
PROBLEM IS, this individual is not home so isn’t able to access the records to see where I should be, so I am still secretly homeless and sitting in the wrong room which casts some unfortunate doubt on the whole “isolation” portion of the program.
About ten minutes later she calls back and tells me where my real room is, so I start moving my stuff over thataway.
In between suitcases, I have my second break down: a confusion-fueled stress rant on the phone to my Andrea, who had to listen to me lose my mind while I paced furiously in the wrong room and spoke a million words a minute for a solid minute and a half about how confusing and stressful it all was.
I calm down, thank her for putting up with me, and hang up the phone. I gather the rest of my stuff and start the final move to my real room.
When I open the door, my delivered meal is waiting for me.
In the wrong building.
In front of the wrong room.
Obviously, there are mixed signals within the system about where my self isolation is actually taking place.
This makes me feel negative emotions.
I throw the food on the pile, take it all to my real room, and, as requested, call my mom to let her know I’m all good and where I’m supposed to be.
At the end of this phone call is when my third breakdown takes place. I have a little cry – for no real reason. It’s just been such a long, hard day at this point. My nerves and emotions have been all over the place since I woke up at 5:30, the part of the day I thought would be the easiest had ended up being the hardest, and I wasn’t sure if the people who were bringing me food even knew where to find me.
I finished my cry and called a friend, and felt a lot better (especially since I ate something and drank some water. Never discredit calories and hydration, they work wonders). I started unpacking a little, so I could feel comfortable for the two weeks, even if I don’t get the advantage of being able to set up my full room.
My Andrea and her boyfriend inform me they’re sitting six feet apart from each other and watching Hamilton around nine, and invite me to join. I do so with great eagerness, we watch act 1, I go back to my room, finish unpacking.
I take a much-needed shower. I hadn’t realized that the face wash I brought is not my regular face wash; it burns my sensitive skin, because that’s exactly what I needed to round out my day. (As I type, the skin under my eyes is still red and burned. Cool). I wash it off as best I can.
I stack the two mattresses in my room together to create the ultimate mega-bed, a throne among its twin-sized peers, and fall into a deep and dreamless sleep.
A simple day, much needed after the rigors of August 21, 2020. I woke up around 11:00 to a text from Andrea telling me to open my door. Behind it, I find an iced coffee; surrounded by doting friends, her boyfriend included me in his daily coffee delivery. I am exceedingly grateful.
Andrea comes and talks to me through my window as I sit on the desk in front of it, a system that I find exceedingly enjoyable.
I spend my morning going through my class schedule, setting up my planner, staring at my breakfast and eating it. Very shortly after, my lunch comes. I watch Lindsay Ellis’s video on Titanic and eat that. Around three, my friend (the one of border-picking-up renown) brings me some groceries and her TV to use for my stay, because, once again, I am surrounded by people who I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve.
After that, I go sit outside and read some Welsh mythology. Andrea (and later her boyfriend) come and sit, also (properly far away!), so significantly less reading gets done than I’d planned, but it is extremely pleasant nonetheless.
Inside, dinner. ‘Tis a rice and curry, standard school fare for me. I watch some TV, read a little more, and then it’s outside to watch Act 2 of Hamilton. (Andrea’s reaction sufficed; I do not have to disown her).
I much more boring day today, but needed. I am now sitting with my tea and writing this, and I’m feeling quite peaceful. Yesterday was too much, but I’m feeling much more centered and relaxed. I suspect quarantine will be actually quite nice for me, all in all; it’s a much needed break that I never would have taken of my own accord, it is affording me alone time that I will likely never get again in my life, and there is actually far more opportunity to licitly spend time with people (though, with masks and from a distance) than I had thought there was, which makes it all much more bearable.
We’ll see how I feel when I’ve been in the hole longer, especially since we’ve been allowed to be outside all day long on the weekends. Week days, it’s only allowed before 8:00 am and after 5:00 pm, so we’ll see if that affects my mood at all; but, really, I’ve a lot to do, and a summers’ worth of sleep to catch up on, if nothing else.
Do stay tuned. Perhaps this will end up inadvertently chronicling a descent into madness. Could be fun!