Culture

Home: An Evolving Relationship

by Megan Evans, Olivia Adams and Ebony Jayne Clent

COVID-19 has turned each and every one of our lives upside down, we once lived carefree, hustling and bustling social lives, now we live out our day-to-day lives within the confines of our homes. Any form of normality pre-COVID-19 feels like a distant memory. However, in the spirit of finding a ‘new normal’, we asked the Quench community to share with us the ways in which their home environment has had to adapt to suit the demands of lockdown and social distancing. Nothing was off-limits, we wanted to know how ‘home’ had changed, whether this was redecorating the guest bedroom, spending more time around the dinner table with siblings or creating new family traditions. Contributors were free to explore the dynamic between themselves, family and the specific places they chose to spend their time – wherever they found solace, we wanted to know!

The following extracts were the submissions we received

Home: Megan Evans

To me, home bears all the memories of growing up. I am surrounded by consistent photographs plastered on walls, trinkets from holidays and trips away, scuff marks here and there on the odd corner from various periods of time. Going from the security and independence of university to going back to my roots at home where my growing personality began, it was a massive change, to say the least. 

I went from having a double bed, to a bunk bed which I share with my twin sister. I felt the cramped nature of having five people inside an average-sized house but only one bathroom! 

I went from not having any sense of routine, to my parents demanding I go to bed no later than 12? Little did they know that I would be going to bed far later than this on most nights. 

I found much more solace than I used to in my little countryside town, compared with the bustling nature of a fast-paced city. I used my garden space much more which enabled me to strip back and meditate. It made me recognise the abnormality of the present, but all the fond memories I had made during uni, before uni and after. I was able to read some amazing material which inspired me to write more freelance, to help build my portfolio, which inspired my dream of journalism once again. I helped garden with my mum which made me appreciate the beauty within the natural world. The feeling of knowing my family was safe within the walls of my own house even with a global pandemic unfolding outside helped me to demolish my inner anxiety from various bumps that I’ve encountered within the year. 

Whilst I was grieving the loss of a partner in my life, I managed to gain respect and love for myself, on all the achievements that I have yet to face. 

I found comfort in the tiny conservatory where my not so friendly cat sleeps, the kitchen which always has crumbs on the kitchen counter, the bathroom which somehow always seems to linger a vanilla scent. I knew that to me, whilst I had been living away for almost 2 years so moving home was a bit strange, I found so much joy in my home environment, more so than I ever could. 

My bedroom, whilst it still holds some scars and wounds from past memories that have hurt me, it also holds good memories that have helped me to grow into the woman I am today. It isn’t ideal sharing a room, but I’ve found being in my bedroom at home has reminded me to appreciate time. I won’t get these times back, where me and my sister would gossip until early hours of the morning. Those teddies I was too embarrassed to take to uni are still here. The books that I used to read back when I was 14 are still here. Random gifts from past Christmasses and birthdays are here, and as I look around the room, even though I came home way earlier than I wanted, it is my forever home. 

To most, the objects in my room are meaningless. To me it is a treasure. As long as I allow this space to grow again, then I have succeeded.

Home: Olivia Adams

Six months ago, life changed drastically for us all as we went from having the freedom to do whatever we liked, to then being instructed that we were only able to leave our homes when essential. For myself, this was a massive adjustment because I had to return from university and living away from family, while my social life also came to a close. This meant that I spent a lot more time at home doing activities that I wouldn’t usually give much attention to or, in fact, at all.

When at home, my family try to eat dinner together every evening, however due to our different schedules this is not always possible. The requirement of staying at home meant that we were able to spend every meal time together, in no rush to be anywhere, and left with plenty of time to chat. We took it in turns to each experiment with new recipes and even made our own ‘Lockdown Recipes’ book! Each night after we had eaten, we would either play a game together or watch a TV programme; making sure to view these strange times as more of quality time together.

Aside from developing my culinary skills and hanging out with family, being at home also meant spending a lot of time in two places. One place being my bedroom, which is usually my area for comfort and relaxation; but instead had turned into my permanent study space and area of quiet so that I could concentrate amongst the noise and distraction elsewhere in the house. The other place being the garden, due to the majority of the weather over lockdown being warm, it became my ideal place to chill in the sunshine; made better with a glass of pink gin and a book! 

Whilst I love being at university and living in a different area to my hometown, I am glad that I spent lockdown at home because it really made me appreciate how lucky I am to live by both the sea and the forest. It was great to be able to take advantage of my one hour of exercise a day to walk down the beach for a change of scenery – which was very mentally refreshing!

Although COVID-19 has been an experience that I hope is over soon, I definitely think it has had a positive impact on my relationship with cultural activities. Without it, I don’t think I would have started to enjoy reading again or found time to develop my own personal blog, as I previously viewed both as a lot of effort on top of my studies. It has made me realise that I love reading and writing and I must make time for both even when life gets busier again! Alongside this, I found that it has improved my relationships with my family and even though none of us ever wanted this current situation, we are definitely grateful for the time we got together.

Home: Ebony Jayne Clent

What can I say? My relationship with my home was one that evolved for the better over the quarantine period. In fact, I can confidently say that I look at my home environment with more gratitude than I ever did before COVID-19…

One thing I’m most pleased about is how the coronavirus pandemic encouraged me to start reading again. The escapism of flicking through the pages of a fictional novel, whether wrapped in a blanket on my bed, or sat comfortably in a deck chair in my garden, was something I had long forgotten. Reading became an opportunity for me to isolate myself from any negative news and hide within the comforts of a safe space.

To my surprise, the pandemic also brought out a creative side of me that had long been passive. A few weeks into quarantine, I found myself immersed in creating a scarecrow project for a local competition. My kitchen was no longer solely a place for cooking and dining; it was a creative workspace. Our kitchen island was shortly transformed into a place for painting, crafting, sticking and cutting. At the start of lockdown, the room had been a place where I’d break down in front of my parents about my uncertainties for the future. However, transforming my kitchen into a creative area allowed me to trade the tears for dancing and singing to my favourite tunes as I worked on my project.

Another task I undertook was sorting through items in my room. Whilst initially daunting, I ended up finding the task rather satisfying. There’s something really cleansing about choosing to donate unneeded items and clothing! Not to mention, I found myself revisiting old memories as I picked my way through embarrassing school diaries and sentimental objects (not to worry, these items most definitely weren’t chucked out!)

Above all, my relationship with my home was largely shaped by the increasing family time within my household. With an abundance of free time on our hands, My Mum and I found ourselves spending a lot of time with each other. Attempting to distract ourselves from the pandemic, we decided to direct our thoughts into planning new weekly structures for our time stuck indoors. Friday night shortly became fake-away night, where my family and I would gather around the dining room table together and feast on my mum’s homemade recreations of our favourite takeaways! Following the success of fake-away Fridays, we decided to designate Wednesday evenings for cocktails and gins. Every Wednesday night at 8.00 pm, I’d find myself watching the sunset across our garden as I sipped upon my refreshing alcoholic beverage. This was when I realised that instead of feeling down, I should appreciate my surroundings and be grateful for how lucky I am to live where I do. Whilst taking the time to absorb my surroundings, I began to truly appreciate living in the countryside. One thing I know for a fact is that there’s no other place I’d have rather spent quarantine in.

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