The Last Normal
It is March 5, 2020. Late Morning.
I make a final pass through my empty dorm,
I turn off the heater, its hum stills to silence.
Cardboard boxes and Walmart bags sit on the cool cement floor,
filled with textbooks and t-shirts packed for spring break at home.
The words pandemic and quarantine loom in my mind,
still lacking the magnitude born of experience.
A dictionary definition not yet understood.
I shut the blinds, unaware of the change to come,
hard and sour, like biting into an apple still unripe,
when I realize “Normal” isn’t coming back.
I wish I knew before I locked the door behind me
I wouldn’t be coming back that Monday.
That the food in the fridge would spoil before I’d return,
that my roommate’s potted orchid, forgotten
as we all rushed home, would wither in isolation,
that I had just spent my last night in that room,
that I’d spent my last hours unconscious, unaware.
Maybe that ignorance was a comfort,
a soft blanket to wrap myself in,
hidden from the truths I’d learn in the weeks to come.
When I think of it now, I have to ask myself a question.
If I had known this would be the last time I’d be here,
the last time I’d feel normal,
how could I have left it?