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#stayathome stories – #14

In our latest story, Rose reflects on the upside of the lockdown for homebodies and asks some hard questions about what returning to normal means.

Life in a Time of Corona

by Rose

This pandemic has been the making of me.

One of the great benefits of being a homebody is that long ago I made my home my castle. I call it my Fortress of Solitude (thanks, Superman!), and it is my refuge from everything I dislike about the world. I don’t have to deal with people at home, I don’t have to feel dissatisfied with my integration at home, and I don’t have to pretend to be anything that I am not at home. My apartment is airy, it has a top-notch computer that I use for gaming and work, and it is filled with books, plants, stationery, and other things I love. So, while the world began to shut down and everyone retreated nervously to their homes, for me the action was like a state-sanctioned reason to be the recluse I have always wanted to be.

I know, that sounds bad.

Maybe it would have been bad if my husband weren’t there enjoying the sanctuary life with me. For the first time ever, his work allowed him to do prolonged home-office. Every day was like a gift. I got to see my favorite person 24/7 for months, a radical change from his normal sixty-hour work week and, oh, what a change that made for both of us. He was happier, less stressed, ate better food, and had more time for exercise. We even started making the bed every day. Then, we planted the entire balcony until it was overflowing in greenery. I felt more motivated, inspired by his presence, and started exercising every day, eating less, and writing creatively on a schedule for the first time in years. I worked on my mindfulness, trying to let go of uncontrollable outcomes. I finished a novella and started work on a full-length novel I had plotted out months ago. The world might have been crashing and burning outside of our fortress, but inside we were safe and finally able to live our best lives.

Nothing gold can stay, though.

That’s not to say that we weren’t paying attention to the concerning events happening outside our home, of course we were. However, it was frustrating to watch how the state governments of Germany raced to see who could be the most reckless as they rushed to reopen. At the first appearance of the lockdown easing in Berlin, my husband’s company, which was fully capable of working remotely, ordered him back to the office under the auspices of getting back to “normal.” In fact, everyone I listen to seems in a great rush to return the world back to “normal,” and I can’t help but be exasperated and confused by such talk. Why do we want to return to that unsustainable lifestyle? Was it really so great in the first place? And what and who are we willing to sacrifice so that we can have our twenty-euro Ryanair flights returned to us, our packed beer gardens, our corporate-office synergy? If normal was so great in the first place, then why were our countries so inadequately prepared with an underfunded medical infrastructure? Why is the planet in such an environmental crisis? Why is society so fractionalized and distrustful?

I don’t have the answers.

I just worry that, in trying to forget the traumatizing reality of the past few months, people are attempting to rush back to reclaim a normal which was really never that good in the first place. But maybe this is just me not having succeeded as well as I had hoped with my work to let go of the uncontrollable. Others may crave normality, but it has never been a place where I felt comfortable, and that is okay. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught me, it is that there is no need for me to return to the life of being a square peg trying desperately to fit in a round hole. Being a square peg can actually be a useful trait sometimes, and maybe in this crazy world it is actually a secret boon. So, while others crave a return to the world as it was, I look forward to doubling down on all of the positive changes I have made in my life during these last few months. For the first time in years, I can’t help but be positive about what comes next.

The future is bright, even if it is not normal anymore.

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