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COVID Chronicle: Zooming from a parked car

My eyes start to water so I rub them with my sleeves. I’m not crying, I’m actually quite happy.

In six minutes, class will begin.

My damp eyes are a result of the violent blast of heat hitting my face from the car heater. I am wearing my dark gray, plaid wool jacket — a staple during the winter months and often found around my shoulders. Beneath my black snow boots, are my precious wool socks that shield my feet from the freezing temperatures of these cold, gray mornings.

As I turn the key in the ignition, and the car engine falls asleep, I press the power button on my keypad and my laptop wakes up. I review the checklist in my head: “Pen? Check. Highlighter? Check. Notebook? Check. Folder? Check.” Everything I need is on the driver’s seat of the car. I must sit shotgun, otherwise my laptop will not fit between me and the steering wheel.

Perhaps this setup is not the normal one for a college student, but during these days of COVID-19, few words of the English language have become more obsolete than the word “normal.” We’ve all had to make sacrifices, change our plans, and redefine our normal. For me, “normal” means staying home, studying online, and remaining isolated from the threat of the virus at all costs.

Living in the rural mountains has its perks; the guarantee of reliable, internet access with enough gigabytes to sustain several Zoom meetings throughout the week is not one of them.

Thank goodness for the local library! It’s closed this morning, but I would not want to go inside anyway (isolation equals safety after all). The library parking lot is empty, just like it usually is this time of day, which means I can park close to the building and better connect to the treasure trove that I’m sure would appear to be the color gold if it were visible to the naked eye — WIFI.

8:59 a.m.

I click the link for today’s synchronous lecture. Later, I’ll return home, drink hot cocoa and do my homework if the WIFI is strong enough (otherwise I’ll be back). Perhaps one day, I’ll make it to campus. Perhaps one day, I will have the pleasure of meeting my classmates face-to-face, and shaking their hands in greeting. Perhaps one day, the word “normal” will experience a renaissance.