Tuesday, March 17, my day started off perfectly. I had just spent the weekend with friends camping near Sequoia National park. I went to the beach early with my boyfriend and we got to enjoy the fresh light sea breeze that was cooling the increasingly warm weather.
After going back to our dorms, I decided to be productive – by that, I mean finally washing the rugs in my dorm. After swiping my debit card, with a deep sigh, at Laguna dorm’s third-floor dryer, I retreated back to my dorm in attempts to entertain myself. I did that by watching TikTok, a not-so–guilty pleasure of mine.
At this point in time I already knew that most, if not all, California state universities had closed dorms and gone to online school for the semester. But Vanguard had already announced that they were going online for the rest of the semester. So, I expected to simply social distance in our dorms. If we had the choice to stay in our dorms, I would have.
However, as I was following one of those ‘Are you bored at home? Try this exercise to fill time!” TikToks I never expected to suddenly receive an urgent text from my boyfriend telling me to check my emails from Vanguard because we had to leave the dorms.
Immediately I was filled with an anxiety, I knew this was a possibility but now? With such short notice? I scramble for my phone and open my email. I was hoping that it wasn’t true, maybe a mistake? But no, I had to leave. By 5 o’clock on Friday.
I will be completely honest, I felt like crying. I had made friends at Vanguard. I had made a life at Vanguard. Vanguard had become my second home. I did not want to leave.
I would miss jumping in the puddles that gathered everywhere on campus whenever it rained, not that the splashes I made were even big enough to disturb wandering ants.
I would miss late nights laying on the beach while watching a movie—or three—and watching the moon rise higher into the sky.
I would miss rushing out of class to scavenge for a table at the student center, so that my friends and I could eat lunch together.
I would miss going to rocking chair beneath the tree in the middle of the science buildings at night and procrastinate—ahem I mean taking a break from my studious habits while looking at the stars through its branches and pulling my jacket closer around me.
I would miss getting meal replacements at the cafe and forgetting to put my salad in a paper bowl so that I could take it to my dorm with me – many times my friends tried to convince me to just take the bowl because they know I’d return it, but the guilt of borrowing a singular cafeteria bowl would have weighed down my soul.
I would miss the WIFI that always kicked me off no matter how I tried to convince it that I was still a student – I know, very surprising given it had been an ENTIRE day since I last signed in to the WIFI, well maybe I wouldn’t miss that.
I called my mom.
I had moved to Vanguard from Georgia. So, how was I going to transport everything I brought from Georgia and everything I bought while at Vanguard?
Luckily my mom is currently a teacher in Las Vegas, and was able to get off work. So, Wednesday morning she would drive up to help me move out.
I knew I had to start packing, but the second I started packing it would be so real. I would have to leave. But I gathered my courage and dragged out my Russian nesting doll mess of suitcases.
Looking around my dorm I didn’t know where to start, eventually I decided the easiest place to start would be my clothes. Half of them were already folded in drawers; So, I began grabbing armfuls of clothing on hangers. I prefer to hang up my clothing, which worked to my disadvantage for once.
Frozen II had just been released on Disney+, what better time to watch it than when I have to spend hours packing my life away?
So, as I listened to the famous magical echo that led Elsa to her next trouble filled journey, I was trying to sort out my own journey and all the loose papers I had collected over the course of fall and half of spring semester.
I am not a messy or dirty person, but I am nowhere near organized. So, I eventually gave up trying to sort the papers and set them into various boxes. We have spent over a month in social distancing, and I do not dare attempt to find and sort all of these papers.
After the entirety of Frozen II and half of Disney’s Brave, I had almost finished packing all of my items into spare amazon boxes that I luckily kept throughout the semester. I knew that my roommate would arrive soon to pack and move all of her stuff; So, when I got a text asking if I was up for one last walk on the pier, I took it immediately.
Hurriedly grabbing a small blanket, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be my last time going to the beach before fall semester. I met my boyfriend at my blue 2004 jeep that, as I like to say, has lots of character in its imperfections.
We couldn’t help but let sadness seep in through the windows and fill the car’s atmosphere. We inhaled it with every breath and let it slip off of our lips and glide through the air on our words as we talked about our stressful and rushed travel plans to leave Vanguard. I reached over and placed my hand over his trying to bring some comfort to him and to myself.
Pulling into Newport pier I parked in front of the 24hr donut shop, and the shop lights shone through my back window. When I stepped outside the breeze that was perfect to cool me that morning was now biting against my nose.
I wrapped my blanket around me in vain as we walked – well he walked; I shivered my way – to the pier. We quickly realized that the pier closed early to prevent social gatherings but decided to lean on the railings and watch the sea for a while.
I stood next to the closed gate wearing my blanket and the jacket I ‘borrowed’ from my boyfriend, I looked out onto the rolling dark waves and admired the moonlight reflecting off of the white seafoam.
Everything was changing so quickly, but the rhythm of the ocean was constant and steady amongst the sudden chaos my mind and life had been flung into. I was grateful to be there, but as I overlooked the ocean, I thought of all I was going to leave behind the next morning and of how uncertain the future seemed at that point
In that moment, I could not but help feeling lost.