An eleven-by-ten silhouette of a cow in a black picture frame centered on the wall; this is the image that will forever be burned into my brain when I think of my time at the DoubleTree. I spent nine treacherous days and nights there. My dumb ass decided to pick a school that was eighteen hundred miles away from my home state, making my only choice was to fly Delta to quarantine through UVM. I Left at 2 am, and proceeded to stay awake for 25 hours, surviving only by tiny peanut packages and tender white popcorn my father made me pack. When I arrived, hallucinating and dying, they took our keys and shoved us into our permanent rooms. I heard the *zrrrp* of the room unlocking, I entered to see… the most stereotypical hotel room. The only distinguishing feature was an eleven by ten silhouette of a cow in a black picture frame centered on the wall This is where the journey began.
Day 1: I woke up at 2 pm after sleeping in to find myself alone. The day was a breeze, I watched movies, read a bit of a book (feeling like a total nerd), and did my usual pacing for about an hour. Then came dinner, here was the first challenge I was to face. I encountered the first of many strange grey lumps of meat that they fed us. Imagine a hockey puck size disk, an inch and a half thick, completely grey, both wet and dry, of meat. It was so tough you could have sewn many together and made a pair of chaps from it. This is also the first of many interactions with Annie Stephens and Rafael. On the nightly teams meeting their chemistry was just electric. When they discussed cohorts or when they got mad at people for asking simple questions, I would nearly faint from the beauty. I then, waking up a mere 10 hours earlier, crawled into bed and went to sleep. Taking one last glimpse of the eleven-by-ten silhouette of a cow in a black picture frame centered on the wall before I was swept away.
Day 3: This was the day where I started to lose it. I began to notice it when I proceeded to open and close the safe for 25 minutes; setting the code to 69 every time. I decided to name the cow Horace, just to have a companion. He was my guardian, watching over me protecting me. Today we had the first of many “cohort times,” where we could socially interact with people. From now on it will be called “yard time.” Yard time was fine, the usual meeting of new people and discussion of majors and skiing. I was able to use my Minnesota accent to really impress a native from there. Felt like a cool man that day. I reentered my room an hour later, to attend the meeting. They were particularly mad, with an answer to a simple question of mine being “oh you think you got jokes huh?” and “boy I bet you think you’re funny?” I do, but that was not the point. Horace and I had a brief conversation over Theodore Rex, then I went to sleep.
Day 6: I was gone by this point. I was randomly laughing at icicles outside my window. I put sweet potato tortilla chips inside the safe. Horace was of no help, only encouraging me on. I ate lunch then went to my first virtual activity of the week. Attending the “pleasure in quarantine” seminar, where they taught us how to masturbate three days before leaving. It was exactly what I needed to bring me back down to earth a little bit. No matter how crazy I got, I still never thought that “pleasure in quarantine” was a good idea for a seminar. Soon after I needed to explain to Horace what masturbation was. I decided to skip yard time today as I had a ceiling to stare at. I went to sleep after hours of talking with Horace and dreamed of grey meat.
Day 9: Finally, the day came for freedom. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep that night. I packed up all my clothing and new shit they gave us in quarantine. Like watercolor paper, and tiny playing cards. The thought process of giving us those items still baffles me to this day. I get my room key back and dash onto the Cat Bus. Arriving in L/L and never being happier to smell the subtle hints of weed I had missed so much. But in the back of my mind I was missing Horace. We all need a Horace in our lives. Looking back, I would not have survived without the moral and emotional support that stupid cow provided. While he was not remotely perfect, encouraging me to do crazy things. He was there and open to discussion. No matter how much Annie Stephens or Rafael tried to make the DoubleTree a pleasurable experience, they couldn’t come close to an eleven-by-ten silhouette of a cow in a black picture frame centered on the wall.