Still, home

The new meaning of home

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“Someone’s or something’s place of origin, or the place where a person feels they belong” 

Definition of Home as Origin from Cambridge Dictionary

I wrote this a few weeks into lockdown – it feels like such a long time ago already. It has taken me this long to process it, and I am happy to share it with you. We are starting to go back into the world at different paces in different geographies and across different industries. What are your reflections on your relationship with home during lockdown and as we reopen? Are there parts of it that you will take into the better normal? (Yes, I know I am that annoying eternal optimist.) I would love to hear from you.

Quite suddenly, we are home, all. A “space metamorphosis” within our residence. Once a base to rest our heads, in which to drop in and out, these walls have become all walks of life, padlocked together. Living room turned classroom, a kitchen-office, bedroom-gym. I write between turns, mirroring the shape shifting of space, as time tides in and out. The worker bee, the wannabe exercise devotee, the weary school teacher, the sometimes patient, often irritable mom. I frantically swap hats in an attempt to be more than I am.

Time has changed. We cannot play her as we did before, pulling her this way and that, pushing her forward and back with our diaries and oh-so-important commitments. Rigid no more, she plays a new tune now in this space. She holds the baton, conducts our days. We are slowed.

And outside our panes of glass, neighbours shout over fences, or pantomime wave when they see us at windows, they jog by, ecstatic to hold eye contact, to connect if only for a second.

Messages ping in and out of a blinking box, virtual waves beamed from loved ones, sent from their solitary hub to ours. This strange new digital world abuzz with Skype Cappuccinos, Zoom Cocktails, Virtual Playdates where our kids madly wave at friends. The memes sent to lift our spirits, these light reliefs, a humanity calling card for shared experience – “Here I am… ”, says the face of a stranger, shared 100,000 times “Here I am, and guess what – I feel as you”.

I clean, trying to gain some semblance of control as I navigate the tapestry of feelings weaving in and out of these four walls. Emotions are fast paced, positivity followed by fear, fear sidled-up to gratitude, gratitude swiftly displaced by a wave of acute anxiety. Some days I can keep up, other days – I cannot. And I am not alone in this space, I count this as a blessing. We must count blessings, though if I am honest, some days as I break from work, to reach and hold the small hands of my two children, I wish I had an extra hand to hold myself. We are all holding much suddenly, and despite knowing we are lucky, feeling guilty that we are lucky, life at home can feel a heavy cumbersome load.

And still – we find each other. We clatter pots and pans to thank those on the front line, we clap and cheer outside our front doors, a weekly ritual in this temporary new life. Socially distanced, emotionally close – we sing opera from our balconies to neighbours who join in or share a glass of wine across the air, or chalk the streets with rainbows to thank those resilient and compassionate heroes, united in their fearless battle, fighting for all of us.

That profound sacrifice, that activity, that action, we see it on the news. It feels obscene some days, to stay still, in our houses or flats, when so much pain is happening around us. Holed up listening to podcasts, reading books, teaching our kids, calling our loved ones, being… static. When all we want to do, is … do.

But these parameters must hold us tight. And they will. Who knows, we may grasp at something new, in this sudden unexpected season. A something nestled between the shrieks of our kids fighting, or in the heavy exhalation at the end of the final Zoom call of the day.   This new unhurried time may now lead us by the hand, she may show us something unexpected nestled between skirting boards, in the edges of our rooms, about who we are alone, about who we are together.

Still, home. 

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