Moving Out: Mourning a Semester

Graphic by Robert Samec

The good news: I don’t have to worry about the pressing question of whether the box is half-full or half-empty.

The bad news? The box is completely empty. And I have to fill it up along with every other cardboard box in my room and move out within the next 48 hours. 

Somehow, I find myself in the same situation at the end of each semester. Finals roll around after a wholly unproductive reading period (because there’s always so much time to start that paper… right?). Then, I flail around in the library as I try to preempt procrastination by typing a few words on a Google Doc or manically flipping through a couple pages of notes before taking a “well-deserved” break. It always ends with me cramming a test or marathoning a paper at least once (usually twice). Around the last few days of the finals period, dread sets in as I realize I still have to move out! I frantically locate boxes and stuff them to the brim. I then lug them to a nearby friend’s house and shove them into the damp basement to store over break. And now I still need to pack a duffel to take home. Yet another self-inflicted all nighter. Classic.

Despite so much having changed this year for on-campus students due to the pandemic, at least I can rest easy knowing that my move-out whirlwind will remain just as predictably chaotic as a “normal” semester. With mountains of midterms falling the week before November break (since when was November the middle of the term?), this good history student has once again failed to learn from the lessons of the past. Yet again, I’ve procrastinated assignments, leaving the move-out process till the last minute.

So why do I lament not having time to move out? To me, moving out is a commemoration of a semester completed. It’s a means of reflecting on the term, and I need a bit of time to process the fact that another semester has scurried by us. Each item crammed into that hungry brown cube holds a memory. The new IM shirt. A quarter-used notebook from the physics class I dropped. An AACC water bottle. Dog ears from a makeshift Halloween costume. History books I skimmed for class. Polaroids from hot chocolate night with the suitemates. And plenty of board games from lazy Saturdays. Packing them away is a funeral procession for the semester that we won’t get back. 

All I’m asking for is some time to mourn, some exam-and-paper free time to move out. Who is so eager to kick us out anyways?

I look out the window and see a few others frantically shuttling boxes across the courtyard at 2 a.m. At least I’m not alone. My move-out all nighter is just a bit more tolerable, knowing that we are together in the last-minute mourning of our lost semester. And I can take solace in knowing that I’ll see everyone again next year… right?

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