What a difference a week makes, especially when it comes to toilet paper!

Mount Washington resident Ellen Spokes experienced that phenomenon firsthand when she stopped by the Pikesville Target recently. She planned to buy two packages of toilet paper, but was told by the manager that store rules mandated only one package per customer.

“I started to cry,” said Spokes, who admits feeling rather stressed by the coronavirus pandemic. “The manager said, ‘I’m sorry, you can come back tomorrow.’ That’s the whole point! I’m trying not to go to stores unless I have to.”

Spokes is not the only local parent dealing with the complexities and stresses of college closings and their impact on a family’s daily routine during this pandemic.

Spokes needed two packages because she was buying for a pair of households. One package was for her own home where her sons, Toby and Isaac, have been living with Spokes and her husband, Jeff, since their colleges shut down because of the coronavirus.

The second package was for Sue and Jason Weinstock’s home in North Baltimore, where Spokes’ son, Joshua, a teaching assistant in Spain, is self-quarantining after returning from the European Union on Mar. 17. Also under quarantine at the Weinstocks’ home are their daughter Becca, a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, who was studying in Seville. (Also there is Becca Weinstock’s friend and Spokes’ cousin, Lili Paxton of Portland, Ore., a junior at Mount Holyoke College, who was spending the year in Seville. )

Before returning to Baltimore, Joshua Spokes, a 2017 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Engineering, said he had no intention of returning to the United States.

“A lot of people in the country, including me, didn’t understand the seriousness of the [coronavirus] situation,” he said. “Then on Thursday morning, I woke up to a million texts and found out that [President Donald] Trump would be banning travel from the E.U. At that point, Spain had not announced any quarantine measures, so I was planning to stay in Gandia [in eastern Spain] until Saturday. But Friday afternoon, the Spanish prime minister announced a state of alarm. Then Saturday afternoon, he announced a lockdown. My mom had been talking about me coming home, and that afternoon I made the decision to go. I packed and made all the travel arrangements.”

But it wasn’t that simple. “After lots of logistics, flight cancellations and sleeping on the airport floor, Josh arrived at Dulles yesterday,” Ellen Spokes said.

Matthew and Michael Eisenberg, who were spending their semesters abroad, were forced to return to Baltimore due to the coronavirus pandemic. From left: Kraz Greinetz, Matthew Eisenberg and Michael Eisenberg.
Matthew and Michael Eisenberg, who were spending their semesters abroad, were forced to return to Baltimore due to the coronavirus pandemic. From left: Kraz Greinetz, Matthew Eisenberg and Michael Eisenberg.

Matthew Eisenberg, a junior at College Park, was spending the semester in London when he began to suspect that his days in the United Kingdom were numbered.

“We were following [the coronavirus] from the time it started, but it wasn’t until the kids in Italy got sent home that it became real,” he said.

Eisenberg and his twin brother, Michael, a College Park junior who was studying in Spain, both arrived home on Mar. 15.

“It sucks not to have the full four months in London,” said Matthew Eisenberg. “There are a lot of places I didn’t get to travel to. To go from having so much independence and traveling every weekend to being at home watching Netflix …”

The Eisenberg brothers are now self-quarantining at their parents’ Pikesville home, where they are trying to maintain distance from their parents, Rochelle and Bernie, for the next 14 days. “My brother and I are on one side of the house and my parents are on the other,” Matthew Eisenberg said. “We’re using a separate bathroom. It’s weird being in the house you grew up in for 21 years. … It would be second nature to go into the kitchen to get a snack. But now I can’t just do that. I don’t want to get my mom sick.”

Madeline Willis was planning a spring break trip to Mexico, but was unable to travel due to the coronavirus crisis.
Madeline Willis was planning a spring break trip to Mexico, but was unable to travel due to the coronavirus crisis.

Madeline Willis, a sophomore at College Park, was planning on spending spring break with her sorority sisters in Mexico. But her trip, planned a year ago, was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Instead of sunning on the beach, Willis is now hunkered down with her parents, Deborah Cardin and Jonathan Willis, and her younger sister, Julia, in their Mount Washington home.

When she learned that she would miss her vacation and needed to return home, Willis said she was “extremely disappointed. I love being on campus with my friends, and I love live classes. Now, I’m upset because I won’t be able to see my school friends for a very long time.”

Since arriving home on Mar. 13, Willis has spent her days going out running, hiking around Lake Roland and playing board games with her family.

“It’s fine, but we’re all too close [in the house] and my sister and I keep fighting about stupid stuff,” she said.

To top things off, Willis’ 20th birthday fell on Mar. 20 and she was unable to celebrate with friends and extended family.

Her mother agreed that although they have a large house, it can be challenging to be together 24/7. Cardin, who works at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, which closed temporarily as of Mar. 13, has been working from home since then.

“My husband is a teacher and my younger daughter is a sophomore at Beth Tfiloh [Dahan Community School] and the four of us are in the house trying to have our own space. It’s a little hard to juggle, and this is only Day 2,” she said.

On the other hand, said Cardin, “It’s really nice having people home, playing games. It’s sweet. We’re all healthy, we’re not in dire straits. The hardest part is not knowing how long this will last.”

More In News

All In News »