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Letters from the Homefront: ‘Most Insane Period of Time in My Life’

The following “Letters from the Homefront” account is part of our new initiative, Collecting in Quarantine. Inspired by the poignant letters in the Maryland Historical Society collection documenting past adversities from the Spanish flu of 1918, to the Annapolis yellow fever epidemics of 1793 and 1800, MdHS is calling on Marylanders to send their personal stories of how the pandemic is impacting their lives.

Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts informational booklet
Our contributor today is a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), which was founded in 1826 as the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts. It is one of the oldest art colleges in the United States. Illustration from Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts informational booklet, 1886, PAM 953. H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society.

April 3, 2020 – On this day, Chloe from Baltimore writes:

Hello to readers, I’m Chloe Green, I am a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, a junior General Fine Arts major concentrating in curatorial practices, and an education intern at the Maryland Historical Society. I’m from San Antonio, Texas, but moved to Baltimore to attend MICA. It’s been an exciting last few years, experiencing college life in a new city and exploring career and art possibilities to understand what I’m interested in pursuing. However, this year of 2020 has gone very differently from the last few; in short, it has taken the title of Most Insane Period of Time in My Life.

Today marks about three weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Baltimore and the city exploded with pandemic measures, when MICA began sending emails loaded with information in order to handle the pandemic the best they could on campus. Facilities, studios, everything was shut down just days after we went on an extended spring break. Classes were moved to an online platform, so navigating art studio classes where my desk is crowded in my fabric art and I’m on camera in clothes that are a little more decent than my pajamas has been interesting to say the least. My internship with MdHS has been moved to the digital world as well, I’m very grateful to be able to continue to work with my supervisors in the education department remotely, having video chat meetings to discuss projects and research for the museum. It’s a nice beacon of normalcy and hope that life will turn back to something more familiar and calm in time.

It has been very strange to adjust to how things are now. Being home all the time, looking out at mostly vacant sidewalks and streets, is eerie. I’m incredibly grateful for any nuggets of normalcy I can have at the time, I enjoy my online class lectures and seeing my classmates the most I can, the little bit of interaction brings relief that I didn’t realize I needed. I’m finding more and more every day that having your busy college life come to a screeching halt is really disheartening, and this uncertain time has created a lot of emotions to sort through. It is shocking and disrupting to my art-making and drive for learning, it is depressing to lose so much of my social life and opportunity, and it is scary to be far from my family and know that trying to get to them would be more challenging than it has ever had to be. By nature I am a positive and optimistic person, but some days it has been difficult to be that kind of person.

Despite the incredibly challenging season we have all entered, I’ve been able to find comfort in some things. I took to fun house chores like cooking, decorating, bread-making (who hasn’t tried this yet), or getting my room reorganized. I’ve had time to tend to my plant collection and engage in hobbies I didn’t have time for due to school. It has been encouraging and enlightening to have time to rediscover the things I enjoy, the things that make me who I am. It has given me a chance to reflect on what my passions are and how I will obtain them, as well as what is most important to me to live the fullest life I can. It has been a very chaotic and uncomfortable time but I find that I am grateful for the big shake-up in routine. Sometimes life gets so busy that you fall into patterns that aren’t necessarily bad, they just aren’t moving you to where you want to be. In a strange, very disruptive way, I feel I was given a chance to start fresh in some areas of my life. This above all else gives me comfort at this scary uncertain time.

Like many other people at this time, I have a lot more processing and organizing to do to stay fully on track. It is nice to sit and write a letter to gather my thoughts, I hope more people will do it so that we may remember and be able to look back on what life was like at this time. Yes, working at a history museum is partially why I hope more people will document this time!

Please note: The views, information, and opinions expressed and shared on the underbelly through the Collecting in Quarantine project do not necessarily represent those of the Maryland Historical Society. Our staff does not verify for accuracy the information contained within these submissions. We also do not edit the content beyond minor modifications for formatting or to remove personally identifying information, if applicable. Just like the historic letters in our collection, each letter presents the writer’s own perspective. The primary purpose of this series, with the permission of contributors, is to share and collect the experiences of Marylanders living through the COVID-19 crisis at this moment in time.

To learn more about the Collecting in Quarantine project and how to share a story of your own, click here.