‘The Isolation Journals’ sends a daily prompt for thirty days, starting April 1, to help writers get creative amid the COVID-19 pandemic. You can sign up for this project here.
Today’s prompt: “Reflect on a moment where you did something that left you feeling nourished and sated.”
The thing about a university town is that people come and go so easily.
I’m guaranteed to read this line off a Facebook post every year, and I’m one of those who left.
Leaving was a daze. I woke up, ate breakfast, and got on an SUV filled with all my college items: mismatched socks, a rice cooker, and a bookshelf.
Nothing else reminds me of university town culture than this bookshelf.
It was given to me by Nina, a graduating senior. My friendship with Nina introduced me to a couple of interesting people: Prince and Heather. Both are still living in this university town. Both are also leaving soon.
Because everyone comes and goes the university town, I meet new people every time I come to visit. In my latest visit, I met Mo and Cory and got to know Dane and Ryan.
All seven of us hung out in Heather’s place. We sat on a mattress on the floor, eating and watching a movie. Heather cried, and Ryan comforted her. Prince played the ukulele and then painted Dane’s nails. Nina was on her laptop, working. Cory was giving occasional side comments. Mo taught me how to sing.
My visit in August was almost unplanned. I had collaborated with a family friend who was driving to the university town. It wasn’t supposed to pull through because something unexpected came up, and I had 500 pesos to my name.
I had just lost my job. At the time, I was figuring out freelance writing while looking for an online job. Every day, I woke up with contempt and disappointment. I had picked up coping mechanisms that turned me into the very person my mother used to love. And I was scared I would have the same fate, too.
So I visited the university town on one of its most festive months—when everyone was either drinking or watching a local band perform. I needed this break. I needed this group of friends. They’re like that one moment of ease in a horseshoe ride before another swing. Or when the trampoline catches you, and for one second, you’re stable. Then it flings you back into the air.
It was like that.
This trip was like that.
We painted nails. We watched movies. We slept on the couch. We slept on the floor. We ran on the sidewalk. We carried bottles of beer. We sat down in the hallway. We listened to local bands perform. We said hi to people we knew in college. Some were timid while some screamed and hugged us tightly, followed by a long chat.
In this university town, in August, I did everything I used to do.
I wish I could say this time was different, but I had to catch the midnight bus going back home.
In case you missed my last entry, I wrote about the view from my window.
The Isolation Journals: Day 5