by MARKIE GRAY
Written from New Haven, Connecticut—where she is a student—to her Facebook friends.
This is a super scary and weird time to be living, and I feel like all of us are struggling with so many very difficult decisions, so I wanted to share what my last week has been like in case it helps.
Last Tuesday, I had a complete breakdown and decided to go home to Bloomington. I mapped out every travel option and decided renting a car was safest. I tried to get someone to drive with me to knock out the drive in one day but couldn’t and decided to break up the trip and stay one night at a hotel.
I made plans to fully sanitize my hotel room, bring my own pillows, and put the clothes in which I slept in a plastic bag.
I talked on the phone for hours with people mapping out all the worst-case logistical scenarios. What if I wouldn’t be able to come back to New Haven [Connecticut] and pack up my apartment? What if suddenly my Yale classes starting meeting in person again? What if I can’t get access to healthcare?
I made the difficult decision to leave my cat behind and bought her three months’ worth of supplies so my roommate could take care of her. I rented a car and mapped out a route. I thought about which restrooms on the way would be the most sanitized.
I went to the grocery store and bought tons of road trip food so I wouldn’t have to stop. I packed up my room, taking down all my decorations, and packed two different sets of boxes: one for things I’d need immediately and one for things that I might need if I couldn’t return to New Haven.
I planned on getting to Bloomington and moving immediately into a 14-day total quarantine, taking my temperature twice a day, and not leaving the house.
And then this morning I woke up with less than 24 hours to go before my trip and decided I couldn’t do it.
I am desperate—DESPERATE—to see my family, desperate get out of a city that I’ve never truly loved or even liked. I didn’t want to feel like I was sitting watching three years for which I had turned my entire life upside down just fizzle out and die with no closure.
I told myself that I was going home to take care of my parents, who needed me; to take care of my sister’s apartment while she was away; to be useful. I convinced myself that this was essential travel. But in reality, I was just doing it for me.
My brother is in Bloomington now to help my parents, my sister’s apartment will be fine, and I’d be risking my own health and others, even as carefully as I planned to be, by driving out of Connecticut right now.
I am not sharing this to shame anyone who decided to go home or is planning to in the future. Everything is changing so rapidly and this is such a personal and difficult decision. If I had come to this conclusion a week earlier, I would be home by now. But I just felt that I wanted to share this journey in case it helps you. Especially those of you who, like me, live in this weird interstitial space between home and a temporary rental.
I am sending everyone so much love. We spend much of our time covering up how hard and sad this is with memes and sourdough starters and at-home workout routines. But this is hard and weird and sad and difficult for every person in about one million different ways.
I hope you can open a window and feel a little sunshine and let a little grief work its way out.
Love you all.
Markie Gray is a graduate student at Yale University, a graduate of Bloomington High School South, and a former two-summer intern at Bloom Magazine.