Twilight Zone of Fall Uncertainty: Where We Are Living Right Now

My son, a rising college sophomore, moves into his first apartment this week. During a global pandemic.

Early March, COVID rumblings on campus began. Joe had drawn a terribly low housing number and his dreams of living in coveted sophomore housing on West campus were shattered. As a spring admit, he had been at school a mere 8 weeks. He was fortunate to make good friends quickly, but they had already committed to housing and roommate arrangements, so Joe was on his own.

My son’s sophomore year will commence right in the middle of the new normal. (Twenty20 @mylove4art)

With little notice, they abandoned campus

With little notice, students were told they needed to leave campus. My husband and I planned to drive up for the weekend and help my son scout out apartments within our budget. With every passing day, especially in the beginning of the height of the pandemic, things were shutting down, and fast.

Joe learned that he had one day to visit and look at apartments before restrictions were put in place for no more in-person apartment tours. Our 18-year-old got a quick lesson in apartment hunting and in one day was able to find a reasonable apartment that was only a 10-minute walk to campus.

The lease started August 8th. Joe came home March 8th. Surely things would be back to normal by then.

Now we are a few days from the return

So here we are just a few days away from move in. My dining room looks like a college dorm exploded and then was ravaged by pack of wild animals. Boxes and bubble wrap line the floor. When no one is looking, I step on a couple of bubbles for a little pop fun stress relief.

With my oldest child 23 years old and living on her own, I have assisted in many move in and move outs. This, of course, is my first pandemic move in. The pandemic move out was pretty straightforward. Just get in and get out. We threw everything into giant black industrial strength garbage packs and fled the scene like our lives depended on it.

Those same dark thick garbage bags will assist in move in as we reduce reuse recycle in a somewhat feeble attempt to save the earth in the middle of a global crisis.

It’s exciting but also scary

It’s exciting, but scary. My son’s school has announced a hybrid model for Fall, yet he has received no indication from his professors which, if any, will meet in person. Joe will be responsible for COVID testing and health check-ins and is expected to wear a mask and social distance.

His original disappointment about not being able to live on campus has changed to relief. He does not have to live with the uncertainty of an imminent campus closure, forced to bag his belongings once again in haste and urgently retreat back home.

My son started out his freshman year at community college then started in January at his Dream School just before the coronavirus was gaining traction in the US.

His sophomore year will commence smack dab in the “new normal.” That means in addition to packing all the regular stuff there’s pandemic stuff.

The giant lime green poofy bean bag covered in cat hair, with a heart drawn in red sharpie to camouflage the random stain. The string light photo holder filled with pre COVID adventures. And Jessica, the snow leopard stuffed animal my son begged for after finally being tall enough to ride the Yeti rollercoaster for the first time.

Seven small command hooks for seven cloth masks, one for each day of the week. A box of disposable masks, freshly ordered from Amazon. A pulse oximeter. Hand sanitizer and more hand sanitizer.

Like any parent, I’m nervous

Like most parents I know, I am very nervous about Joe’s return to school.

I commiserate with friends about the Twilight Zone in which we are living. What does the future look like, for us, for our children? Parenting is an ever-evolving journey, these days filled with many uncertain and uncharted waters.

What remains constant is our parental dedication – giving our students the comfort to know that the empty nest is ready to be filled at a moment’s notice, if the world shuts down again, and that our children can always return home.

More to Read:

Popular Face Masks For Teens and Adults We asked our Grown and Flown community which ones they liked the most and here is what they said.

About Shari Bender

Shari earned her BA in Communication from Stanford University and freelances all things Communication and Marketing. She is a cat-loving spiritual vegan and former admissions interviewer. With two grown children. Shari is happily and sentimentally embracing her Empty Nest
along with her husband of nearly 30 years. Her musings delight parents in numerous publications and online platforms, including Grown & Flown and

Read more posts by Shari

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