The things you learn locked in a house with your family.
I want to write about this for perhaps the exact reason I feel I shouldn’t; it’s everywhere. A too-tempting topic we are all simultaneously exhausted and obsessed with.
In fact, one could go as far as to say broadcasting your isolation experience, whether it be through Instagram live-streams, blog posts, Facebook updates or twitter threads, has become cliché. We’re the generation of constant self-demonstration suddenly in possession of a fascinating experience and ample time with which to share it.
That being said, I’ve always believed the only thing worse than doing something because everyone else is, is pointedly not participating because everyone else is. So, here we are.
Day four and I’ve lost count of many things; the number of times I’ve heard the word ‘unprecedented’, the number of badly made instant coffees, the zoom conference calls, the times I’ve considered cutting bangs or dying my hair out of sheer boredom, the articles I’ve read about… you know what.
I’ve also lost count of how many things my family (currently consisting of two parents and older brother), who pre-isolation seemed like a lovely if not slightly offbeat bunch, have done in what seems like a mutual ploy to drive me completely insane.
Freshly brewed coffees have been stolen in the few minutes left unattended (the defence being they thought I had ‘gone out’ and took the liberty of ‘finishing it off’). Films have been played at ma volume 110% at 10 pm resulting in passive-aggressive “THANKS FOR TURNING IT DOWN” texts, toothbrushes used with apathetic abandon as to their actual owner and VERY IMPORTANT conference calls interrupted by dressing-gown-clad parents complaining about how you ‘still haven’t unloaded the dishwasher’.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my family. But living in isolation with someone doesn’t’ just require love. It requires a level of patience, grace and selflessness you quickly realise you do not possess (and neither do they, just to set the record straight).
So I guess if I were to hunt around for that silver lining on days when paper-cut frustrations accumulate like dirty dishes my father seems incapable of putting in the dishwasher no matter how many times I tell him, it would be this; in a world where we move far and fast to live lives of autonomy, answering to no one but ourselves, maybe this is exactly what we need.
To bump up against the rough edges of other people without an escape hatch; to learn a little compromise and how to give grace when we least feel like it.
I’m not making any promises; there is a certain kind of rage one can only fully express to those who’s love is unconditional (like family) when they’ve done something truly infuriating (like refusing to lend you earphones that they aren’t even using at the moment).
But maybe, we can at least be people who try to let the unheroic moments of sacrifice make us into better people at the end of this.