Writing by Sarah Rose McCann // illustration by Ramya
These four walls of my bedroom are where you’ll often find me, lockdown or no lockdown, it’s where I spend my time. Curled up in the corner, drifting in and out of sleep with my pain medication and watching the rays of sunshine countdown my days better than any sundial ever could. My home is my kingdom, my safe space, my prison, but at least now everyone is staying inside the guilt can subside.
The view outside isn’t pretty. Rows and rows of red brick terrace houses, of tiny backyards and bins piled high with rubbish. At night you can hear the rustling and take up bets with your significant other as to whether it’s a rat, a cat or maybe even a fox? That one drunken neighbour who spends warm days on his kitchen roof in his pants, drinking his whiskey and singing Van Morrison, meaning on sunny days if you need to sleep through the pain you have to close your window and sweat. But it’s home.
If these walls could talk, I wonder what they could say, what they have seen. The damp moisture rolls off them every morning, crying a lament for my lost youth whilst I watch another day of my twenties pass me by, curled up in the foetal position, bleeding from my rectum and counting my blessings I have this place. Even though the walls bubble and break away, the mould papers our bathroom ceiling like polka dots and ruins our favourite dressing table. But it’s home.
Every room in this little terrace house is etched with memories, some still startle me and keep up at night. I still wake in a sweat remembering the cold feeling of the kitchen tiles when Tony found me unconscious, the same tiles we danced on when we were planning our wedding. I feel like I’m constantly trying to balance the bad with the good, the hope with the hope lost. And yet, here I am every day in this place, trying to reason with myself and allow myself to be, but it’s home.
The past year this home has been my constant. Months of surgery recovery, complications and mental health anguish. We have always managed to scramble our rent together, goodness knows how. It’s not the home we dream of, or the one we wish to stay in for much longer, but right now, it’s the only stability I have in a life of uncertainty. When you have a chronic illness, you wake up every morning never knowing what you’re going to get, life isn’t like a box of chocolates. And when you are losing so much of your control, of your sense of self, of what made you, you, having this little nook to retreat to is worth its weight in gold. It might not be perfect, but it’s home.
And after lockdown passes and you can start to venture out and you thank your lucky stars and shake off the cabin fever, I will still be here. When you are allowed to meet up with friends and talk about the days of lockdown and question how anyone could do that, I will still be here. In my home, begging I’ll wake up with the energy to make it downstairs. I’d like to think that you’d remember us, those who were living in lockdown long before it was government mandated. You’ll know where to find us, it might not be perfect, it might not be by choice, but it’s home.[share]