I wake up surrounded by pink and orange walls, colours my five-year old self once impulsively chose. I wear my mother’s clothes by lack of my own. The sport’s bra’s I ordered in the hopes of continuing my workout routine are all a size too small.
It was supposed to be a big surprise, me barging in on my brother’s 30th birthday party. From cryptic phone calls to my mother discussing logsitics, to expensive flights to Amsterdam and a party dress at the ready. I had packed light; was served cheese sandwiches on the plane.
‘Essential travel’ hadn’t been a term just yet, social distancing merely mentioned, quarantine only for those who were branded paranoid.
Within 48 hours of my arrival the Netherlands closed her bars, shut her schools, and urged her citizens to work from home. I was stuck, quarantined in a country I hadn’t called home for years.
It’s been half a decade since we all resided in the family home. Some things changed; others remained the same.
My brother now joins conference calls in broken English instead of playing Call of Duty. My mother still desperately tries to answer emails from frantic students, while my dad now mostly cooks vegetarian meals.
I am again writing a dissertation. Instead of academic papers and psycholigical research I’m on skype calls with the journalism department. I’ve appareantly also turned into someone who says things like “what’s that word in Dutch again, I only know it in English”.
But the biggest difference is that we’re stuck in doors. The biggest difference is corona.
There are no balls, graduation parties or road trips through the Highlands to look forward to any longer. I am to finish 10,000 word on will power alone.
I ban visions of my blue ball gown, trapped in its ASOS packaging. Avoid the fact that I’ll soon have to move out while my front door is an ocean away. This while all staring at word documents I don’t fill with words.
Instead I thank my lucky stars for my health, safety and ability to still pay rent. I paint my pink walls white, rummage through my mother’s closet as if it were Topshop and perfect my crispy tofu recipe.
I absorb videos of Italians singing arias on their small balconies, grandmothers making miraculous recoveries and police officers serenading quarantined streets.
The long supermarket ques are made bearable by the talkative strangers.
From a butcher giving advice on a porkchop marinade, to mothers sharing craft projects and elderly on the phone cracking jokes about cheap funerals.
It is the small silver lining to the current chaos. In between the lays offs, deaths and financial misery there are reminders: we are adaptive, resilient and innovative.
We will get through this
But it will take time, solidarity and one more important thing.
For you to stay home.