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“The streets had an eerie vibe. Nothing felt real.”

Away But Not Adrift, Brother Helps Brother

My alarm shook me into a groggy funk that left me sitting on the edge of the couch daydreaming and trying to regain consciousness. I peeked outside and was underwhelmed by the gloomy sky that coated the earth with a sullen gray. I phoned Ahmad Henderson,  a friend from the Class of 2019 who is attending Rutgers-Newark, and asked him to accompany me to the Orange Public Library to tutor me in Algebra 2. He instantly agreed to meet me at my house. We would walk the mile and a half to the library together. 

When we met, we “dapped each other up” and affirmed each other with a handshake-hug combo. We started talking about the comical aspects of our lives. We caught each other up on school life, and he expressed his feelings with regards to getting adjusted to the college world. I told him about how much not “being with the guys” during this time was getting to me. He understood. I told him that, from what I’ve seen, the class of 2020 had the most difficult leadership year yet. We’ve lost so many valued members of our community. And, because Benedict’s is a family, those losses have hit us hard. And now the worldwide coronavirus outbreak of 2020 represents another loss. He agreed without questioning my passion-induced testimony. 

The streets had an eerie vibe. Nothing felt real. It was as though I was in a ghostly, unsequenced dream. People were wearing surgical masks and rubber gloves. The Golden Crust, a popular Caribbean restaurant on Main Street, was empty. Normally, there are lines of customers from its doors spilling into the street. The only people out were young schoolkids looking for something to do, vagrants, and us. We climbed the steps to the library, only to find the doors locked, and a sign announcing it was closed.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, bruh,” I said, anguished. Ahmad was amused at my distress and didn’t even attempt to hide laughing in my face. We decided to head home. 

Walking back,  I felt so disheartened. I began to realize that my strong disappointment had more to do with a sadness tied to the temporary suspension of on-site classes at St. Benedict’s than it did with a lack of access to a city library. Fr. Ed , our headmaster, emphasizes that St. Benedict’s is still “open” — and we are taking on-line instruction from our teachers in our homes. It’s just the idea that we may not be physically at Benedict’s for a while that’s hard to take.

My feet were beginning to feel heavy. The air thickened, as the sun streamed through gaps in the clouds. The mile-and-a-half walk that usually takes me 20 minutes took more like 40 minutes. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, including me. 

A phone call from an admissions representative from the University of Bridgeport snapped me out of my dream state. He asked me how I was doing in this “strange time.” The admissions rep informed me that, like most colleges and universities, his institution’s accepted students day would be virtual because of the pandemic. 

 “I have been in education for 20 years,” he told me. “I have lived through Katrina, and 9/11. But I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

His statement put things into perspective for me. I’m not the only one who sees that we are living through disturbing times. It is hard to formulate ideas or beliefs in the midst of this pandemic, but things do feel off, to say the least.

In the end, Ahmad had to go and could not return home with me to help address my math woes. The trip wasn’t wasted, though. In making him laugh, I thought I had helped Ahmad, too. Besides, I was able to get the help I needed. My Benedict’s brother Reuben Kadushin ‘21, now exiled back home in Brooklyn, New York, agreed to help me. Through Google Meet, we decided, he would assist me with classwork and help me understand simpler approaches to solving equations.

This pandemic has been extremely difficult to deal with, but Benedict’s is keeping its promise to stay open by having virtual Convo, and classes. So the burden of not seeing my guys is not as deep. I’m glad to see how well we are all staying connected in this difficult time.

“Going Viral” is a blog tracking the highs and lows of life in the St. Benedict’s community as its members weather the effects of a worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

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