The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Emma Philbrook
The Times 

Emma is heading back to school where there is plenty of Lysol


August 6, 2020

By the time you read this, I’ll be back in South Bend, Indiana.

The temperature will be in the seventies. So will the humidity. I will be fanning myself with my new lease agreement and yearning for the three-digit temperatures of home, which at least had the courtesy to be a dry heat.

My apartment things will come out of storage, smelling like the inside of a plastic bag. I’ll shake them out and dust them off and put them in their old places. I’ll buy a couple of air fresheners, so the entire apartment doesn’t wind up smelling like a plastic bag. Instead, it will wind up smelling like disinfectant and “Hawaiian Breeze.” In the coming weeks, I will occasionally find myself wondering whether ‘plastic bag’ was such a bad smell after all.

I’ll be getting started on homework. Once I do, I won’t stop—unless it’s to study or fill out a job application or do work for the Journal of Legislation, that is. I will be busy. By the end of the month, I doubt I’ll be able to see my desk. You see, there’s an old saying about law school: “The first year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death.” Let’s just say I’m not bored yet.

I’ll also be making my socially-distant way to the law school to pick up my “Welcome Box.” In a normal year, this might have been a “Welcome Packet” and only given to first-year students. But this is 2020, so everyone gets a “Welcome Box.” Contents: five (5) top-of-the-line cloth masks, one (1) digital thermometer, one (1) refillable hand sanitizer bottle, and some miscellaneous goodies as a thank-you for our compliance. (Yes, Notre Dame’s biology department has tested several kinds of cloth mask in order to determine that these are the best. Yes, hand-sanitizer refill stations will be scattered around campus, along with 14,000 bottles of Lysol. Yes, I’m serious about the 14,000 bottles of Lysol. And yes, they think they have to bribe me to accept crucial items that have been next-to-impossible to find all summer. Go figure.)

I probably won’t have started class by the time you read this. When I do, “class” is going to look a lot different. In order to get enough space between the chairs, some of my classes will be held in two classrooms at once, with the professor switching either halfway through the class session or alternating days. The building will be cleaned several times per day. The lunch area will be sanitized midway through the lunch break, and we have been advised to time our lunches accordingly. New guidelines will be posted detailing exactly where to walk. All of this will doubtless give rise to a great many funny stories. Regrettably, by the time these funny stories happen, I will be too busy being worked to death to tell you about them.

I just want to take a minute to thank you all for reading. When you’ve been cooped up for long enough, sometimes it seems like you don’t matter to the world, like you’re screaming into the void. I’m luckier than most in that I had all of you folks to scream to. I hope I made this wild ride of a summer a little easier for you – I know you made it a lot easier for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

(Oh, and the semester ends early this year. I’ll be home by Thanksgiving. You’ll be hearing from me then…)


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