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Monday, Dec 11, 2023

Ruhamah Tess Weil ‘21 in Chicago, Illinois

Ruhamah Tess Weil ‘21

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Submitted May 11, 2020

Boston Logan Airport empty on April 19th. (RUHAMAH WEIL)

It's incredibly disheartening to live somewhere you are not meant to be. 

For the last few years, I have been struggling with mental illness, and have certainly managed to make myself feel out-of-place without help from Covid-19. Anxiety and depression are like two voices in my head that speak up every time I walk into a room: one tells me that I am occupying the space incorrectly, the other says I wasn't supposed to be there to begin with. 

My family lives in Switzerland and due to various constraints and worries, I have yet to go home. I began this period in Boston, staying with long-time family friends. The house was crowded and every morning I had to fold my bed back into the sofa it had come from. Despite being surrounded by love, it was exhausting. I felt awkward putting away the dishes, having to ask where this-or-that goes. I felt awkward pouring out the last bit of milk in my cereal. I felt awkward without a room to myself to chill out in. Eventually, I decided to fly to Chicago and live with my older brother while his roommate isolated elsewhere. The situation here is definitely more comfortable; we're close and we're having fun. But I still feel out of place. Nothing around me is "mine." 

If you're working your job from home or doing middle school from home, life has changed, but mostly just in aesthetics. For college students however, we've lost our purpose and our place. We're meant to be on campus. It's a full time job, 24/7, and it's impossible to do anywhere else, like a fish out of water. Pile on anxiety and depression and you start to feel like a whole whale out of water.

What has been your greatest worry or day-to-day concern as coronavirus has spread?

I have found myself binging TV shows (“Game of Thrones”), reading aggressively (Zadie Smith) and scrolling endlessly (Pinterest). While I truly enjoy each of these “activities,” I am aware that I am craving them for their escapism. They let me forget the long distance relationship that grows lengthier and lengthier with every day; the work that I am wholly unmotivated to do; and that the world we are living in is so, so different from the one we had hoped for. I'll admit, I'm scared by how hard I am trying to hide from reality.

What has made you happy over the past few weeks?

My brother left our home for Middlebury nine years ago. By the time I arrived at the college, he had graduated. He's my best friend and we never expected to live together again. If this pandemic has a silver lining, it’s these weeks (months?) I get to spend bunking with my brother — time I couldn't have even imagined asking the universe for.