Clement: She left Washington, D.C. in 72 hours. Now, she lives in my Sioux Falls apartment.

I looked down at my phone to see a text asking if I knew anyone who had a spare room.  

A friend of his needed a place to live and had nowhere else to go.  I had an extra bedroom, but I was living alone and had been since August.  Because of bad roommates in the past, I never sought a new one and my apartment is cheap, so why not live alone? 

This girl was desperate and I knew it wouldn’t be the right thing to pretend that I didn’t have an entire room not being used, so I slowly messaged back, “Yes. I have a spare room.”

Juju Abobakr moved in 17 hours after contacting me.  She had been in Washington D.C. studying with the Lutheran College Washington Semester.  She was living in an accommodated apartment and working at a full-time internship when COVID-19 hit.  The program told the students to evacuate as soon as possible, which they did in 72 hours.

Abobakr attempted to get housing on campus first.  She couldn’t go home to her family because she had been traveling and if she had picked up the virus, it would be a danger to her mother, who has severe asthma.  Campus denied her request for housing, so she began messaging people asking if they knew anyone with a room.  

“Shout out to Hosea [Kost],” she said, “I heard that he messaged multiple people for two hours … I really really appreciate everything he did.”

However, being in Washington gave Abobakr a “foot in the door” to a job in the nation’s capital.  

“It was a place where I would like to live for a long time to develop my professional career,” Abobakr said.  As a communications and government and international affairs major, a semester in Washington was a good fit for her.  

“We got an email from the LCWS program and they [said that] ‘this thing is escalating faster than we expected and there might be a need to evacuate the district because there might be a lockdown.’” Abobakr said. “Within hours of that, we had bought our tickets to come back to Sioux Falls.” 

I picked up Abobakr from the airport and brought her to my place right away.  We brought her bags into the room, then sat down and asked questions to get to know each other.  

It turns out we had met our freshman year of high school.  Our mutual friends brought us to the Sioux Empire Fair for a Buckcherry concert.  Abobakr used to have bright red hair and I used to “look more rock and roll.” 

If she hadn’t moved in, I would be completely alone during this quarantine.  We have a lot in common, and seem to agree on many different things. If this pandemic is resolved, we hope to move out of Sioux Falls and go our separate ways, her back to Washington and me to Austin, Texas.  But for now, we are growing our friendship and using this time to be thankful that we aren’t in this alone.

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