It all started early Tuesday morning, when Rakesh emailed us to, well, get the fuck out. After a stream of notifications informing all of Harvard College that classes would be moving online after spring break and that we would have to “de-densify” campus by the end of the week, reality began to sink in: My Mom would be my new proctor.
Many would think that, as freshmen, moving back in with our parents would not be that big of a deal, given that we have only been in college for six months. They are wrong. There are a few things at school we have become accustomed to: the ability to walk into a dining hall and act like you do not recognize anyone; to view a new page of the Gutenberg Bible every day; to not hear your proctor have sex with your dad. This is, quite simply, no longer our reality.
Tuesday, 9:06 a.m.:
I roll out of bed and walk downstairs to the dining hall. I step out of the pantry after searching for Marshmallow Mateys, to no avail, and find myself pantless, making full eye contact with the Amazon delivery driver. He is dropping off four gallons of boom-boom sauce to supplement my eatery’s seasoning options. I am in the middle of asking my younger brother to pretend to swipe me into the kitchen when my mom appears. Back at school, I can pop in my air pods so that when my proctor waves to me I can ignore them guilt free. I am not afforded this luxury at home.
The first thing she goes after is my lack of pants. Apparently, the kitchen is a family space now — bullshit.
Tuesday, 12:15 p.m.:
I text my mom my grille order. She tells me I can make it my damn self.
Wednesday, 10:47 p.m.:
My mom walks in just as I start to mix my Powerade with the Rubinoff I stole from the local 7/11. She is not amused. Unlike in my freshman dorm, where my proctor made a show of making me pour my Black Cherry White Claws and Prison Pruno down the drain of the communal bathroom sinks, my mom takes a different approach. She takes it and gets drunk with my dad downstairs; they loudly dance to “Dirty Work” by Steely Dan.
Thursday, 11:17 p.m.
As I wrap up my studying for the Ec10b-participation-trophy-we-know-this-sucks-too-final, I strip down and prepare to participate in the age-old Harvard tradition of Primal Scream. My blockmates are on a Zoom call, all fully naked. I’m running late, so I grab the family iPad, join the call, and head out in the empty cul-de-sac.
I’m standing there in the cul-de-sac — left hand on my privates, right hand gripping the family 16-inch iPad — as the Powerade and Rubinoff begins to pump through my veins and the anticipation on the Zoom call increases. Just then, the porchlights flicker on and light floods the cul-de-sac, revealing my rear end and my mother’s disapproving gaze. She honestly doesn’t even care that I’m naked, she just wants the iPad back so she can watch “Big Little Lies.”
Friday, 3:32 p.m.:
I am working on my rendition of “10,000 Men of Harvard” on my third-grade recorder. My mom busts into my single and tells me to “shut the fuck up; I’m on a conference call.” I check the clock and resume playing — quiet hours don’t start until 2 a.m. on Fridays.
Saturday, 10:06 a.m.:
Just wrapped up watching the throuple wedding on “Tiger King” with the roommates. Needless to say, I’m in my feels. I begin to break down, my walls begin to crumble, and tears stream down my cheeks like dew on a spring morning. I feel like I am being torn apart like the keeper on “Tiger King” was when the tiger ripped his arm off, but, like, emotionally.
Mother comes over to comfort me. At this moment I can only revel in the sweet memory of audibly breaking down on the third floor of Lamont where people knew how to mind their damn business.
— Magazine writer Harrison R. T. Ward can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @H_Dubs10.
— Magazine writer Garrett W. O’Brien can be reached at garrett.o’firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GarrettObrien17.