At exactly 10 p.m. the conventional hydronic baseboard heater would creak. It would always creak in a small pitch the first time, but eventually, would make larger and larger creaks making it seem like a horror movie sound, right before the entry of ghosts. I would usually be talking to my mother when this happened and she was my only excuse to not look at the door expecting a ghost in a white dress.
Right after President Treadwell made an announcement that there was a case of COVID-19 on campus, my friends went crazy. I was so worried and clueless about my next step because I did come in contact with someone who tested positive.. I self-quarantined myself right away in my dorm, as most of the students were on spring break. A couple of days later, I started showing some flu-like symptoms. My host father called me and advised me to talk to the Health and Wellness Center. Within a few hours, I was shifted to the Monadnock building. This is the point, my dear friends, where my world turned upside down and I got a sense of how strong this virus is.
Well, the whole process of shifting was a pain.
Since nobody could touch my stuff, I had to shift all my belongings from LLC to Monadnock. It took me six trips, 12 rounds of back and forth and, in addition, I did not have a trolley. Finally, when I was done, I was done with the day. In the first few days, I explored the building a little bit because I had never been inside. Monadnock is indeed a very beautiful building with three floors and approximately 20 rooms on each floor.
My mornings would be busy. I had to record my temperature and keep track of my symptoms as well. Every day, in the morning, someone from the Health and Wellness Center would check in with me. Then, my Keene family (I do not have a family in Keene, but I like to call them my family), would call me constantly to check how I was doing. My mom would try not to sleep as much so she could just talk with me, even though Nepal is approximately nine hours ahead of the U.S.
I will not lie and say that I did not feel alone and hoped it would end soon and wished it was a dream, because I did. My breaking point was on Saturday, March 21,, when my friend, who is a senior, moved out and we had to say goodbye from six feet away; our last goodbye without a hug.
Having to take a test for COVID-19 and wishing it to be negative, not knowing how long I had to stay isolated because the test results were taking forever to come, seeing my spring and summer plans messed up right before my eyes and being puzzled with the online system of classes, I had never felt this much uncertainty in life.
However, amidst all the chaos, I always had my people. There was not a single day when somebody would not leave something outside my door. In the afternoon, when I went to pick up my lunch, somebody would always leave me a card, goodies and wishes. The more surprising part of this is that there were people I never have met in my life sending me cards and wishes, people from the Dining Commons preparing food for me and RDs bringing me food twice every day with uplifting texts. I would never be able to thank Keene as a community enough for so much love and support.
My friends were lifelines for me, constantly keeping me motivated and being there for me all the time. Puja and Benajil would cook Nepali food for me almost every day. My international friends would come to my window just to talk, even if it was from six feet apart. I don’t even know if I would have connected with each one of them in the normal times the way I did during the quarantine period.
Today, I am out of quarantine and as my test results are negative, I appreciate each lesson life gave me during self-isolation. As a person, I have always been someone who fears change and new adjustments. What this moment has taught me is acceptance. I am a sun person and I love sunlight. Every time it is gloomy or rainy outside, I always pull the curtain down and create my own ball of sunshine inside. However, today, as I look at the gloomy cloud and raindrops from the side hole of my curtain, I proudly pull my curtain up to appreciate my life and nature.
Slesha Tuladhar can be contacted at email@example.com