On Being a Grown Person While Being Confined In Your Childhood Home During a Global Pandemic
In every arena of interaction I am seeing this pandemic, and subsequent quarantine, being referred to as an interruption from regular life, a temporary situation such that, when it comes to end, we will all be able to resume our lives as we had before. I don’t think many people can really predict the long term consequences of something like this, trends that will become apparent five or ten years down the road. Personally, I’ve been thinking about my approach to adulthood, which began last fall and is now in free fall as I try to figure out what happens next.
I was living in an actual house this year instead of a dorm, but the house itself looked like it hadn’t been a home in quite some time. It was quite dirty and hardly got any natural sunlight in any of the common spaces. I spent less and less time there, sleeping at friends’ houses some nights and finding myself reasons to be busy throughout the day. I must admit I fantasized about the house burning down and taking with it all its perversions of a normal home more than once. There were so many things I had no idea how to approach, from how often to run the dishwasher to how to keep the house clean of dust given its shitty ventilation. It wasn’t a job I felt ready or particularly excited for, but now it feels like a job that won’t ever be finished.
Right now I am looking at my future, as many of us are, with much uncertainty. I am stuck in a juvenile reality for an indefinite amount of time, and I don’t know what effect that’s going to have on me personally a few years down the road. I think of some of the people I’ve been when I lived here, and I’m afraid of turning back into them. Parts of my past seem so bleak it amazes me I was able to come out of it still function, still growing. Maybe I’m trying to make something of nothing, but it’s not as if I haven’t done that sort of thing before, and it has indeed often led to something worth taking a closer look at.
Given these anxieties of an uncertain future, I decided to look at the physical materials I have at my disposal right now. The book I put together pulls images from three different archives: photos of my parents living out young adulthood, images I took of my home in Texas while in quarantine on 35mm film, and pages from my favorite books in this house, embellished with some of my own handwriting. I wanted to reacquaint myself with each of these, to return to them as an older and different version of myself. I have included a few of the spreads from the book in this post and would recommend reading the excerpts from the great literature I was able to borrow from.
I want to try to see myself reflected in my parents’ journey through adulthood, but I’m not sure if I’d even be able to do that. So much has changed between when those photos were taken and now. How do I assume their shape? And when I do, will I have to help a child of my own through this transition? I made this book as a type of instruction manual, but also a time capsule of everything I’m afraid of and everything worth keeping. I’ve learned how a house can become a transitory space, I just don’t think I’m ready for permanence. I don’t know if I’m doing anything right, or if there’s any right thing to do. Adulthood post-pandemic will not be something easily charted, and perhaps there isn’t answer yet, but I have begun to look for it.
Note: the book will be posted in its entirety on instagram (@sudeepb99)