Last Thursday everything changed.
Okay, maybe that’s a little bit dramatic, but it’s also kind of true.
I had just finished competing in a dance competition with my brother as a part of our Latin ballroom dance class. I was already aware of COVID-19, and some of the threats it posed to society. I had heard of other universities closing down and switching to online classes, but I hadn’t given it too much thought in terms of BYU closing down. However, right as I was leaving the competition, I opened my email on my phone and saw it. BYU was cancelling school for the next three days, and then switching to online classes. And they encouraged students to return home to finish the semester.
I was shaken. But I was 35 minutes late for a class, so I speed-walked there, and for the next 25 minutes, I was at least a little bit distracted from what this announcement meant for me and my friends in Provo. Then, I went to my prep class for my Jordan study abroad that is supposed to happen this fall. And there, I couldn’t distract myself anymore. Every other question was about COVID-19, online instruction, and contingency plans in case the study abroad is no longer possible.
All this talk made me very anxious, and what didn’t help was that my family group chat was going crazy with my parents and siblings asking what our plans were. I was panicking. All my friends were in Provo, my job was in Provo. I didn’t know how to deal with this. And I didn’t have time to think about it. My parents offered to come pick me and my brother up that same weekend. Two days. That’s how much time I had. To figure out whether I was staying or going, and whether or not I could even go home since my job was on campus. Right after my class, I ran into my brother, Jacob, on campus and we talked briefly about our plans. Jacob is married, so he and his wife planned to stay in Provo. When I left him, I called my dad, and we talked about the situation.
On the bus on the way home from campus, I talked with a couple of my roommates about it more, and then at my Arabic house dinner, we all talked about it again. Every time I talked about it, I got more and more sad. Everything was so uncertain and scary. That night, I watched Strictly Ballroom to take my mind off the craziness.
The next morning I woke up and checked my email. My boss had emailed saying that I could work remotely. I called my parents and told them I was coming home. The rest of the day I spent packing, and hanging out with my roommates and friends, trying to get the most out of the last 24 hours that we would be in the same city.
I had a ton of fun with my friends. We went and got Indian food and joked and laughed. But every time we had any quiet moments, tears would well up in my eyes. I always knew I would have to say goodbye to these people, but I thought I had five more weeks. I was not prepared to say goodbye to them in under 48 hours.
It was really hard to say goodbye to these people. They have become some of my closest friends in the world. We’ve been through so much good, so much bad, and so much ridiculousness. I love my family, and it’s nice to be home in so many ways, but I miss my friends so much. They were my support when I was struggling, they were my study buddies, my meme suppliers, and my second family.
COVID-19 has wreaked so much havoc on all of our lives. My situation is far from the worst I’ve heard of. In fact, it’s one of the best ones. But it still sucks. So bad. No one wants to deal with this. My only hope is that we will all take this seriously so that life can go back to normal as soon as possible.
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay at least six feet away from each other. Avoid large gatherings. And try to stay hopeful and grateful for what we do have.