Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 August 2020

'I didn't know my housemates four months ago, now we are isolating together'

Following some lessons in understanding, we're now not only co-habitants, but co-workers and sources of comfort in trying times

Staying home while living in a houseshare has been a crash course in understanding. Courtesy Warner Bros Television
Staying home while living in a houseshare has been a crash course in understanding. Courtesy Warner Bros Television

It’s strange to think that just four months ago, I didn’t know the people I now share a home with. They were strangers to me, faces on the internet. But amid the coronavirus uncertainty, those faces have now become a daily source of comfort.

There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to fast-track the bonding process. While, initially, it might seem claustrophobic, living on top of each other for weeks and weeks on end, your bedroom your only escape, it’s proven to be a much happier reality. Calming, even.

Sharing a space means sharing germs. And, right now, that requires a whole lot of mutual trust. It’s a new level of intimacy that forces us to care for each other as if we are family. I guess in a way, at least for now, we are.

The little things, like hosting an Easter egg hunt, make all the difference. Sophie Prideaux / The National
The little things, like hosting an Easter egg hunt, make all the difference. Sophie Prideaux / The National

Despite our different occupations, we now work together, the dining room table our shared office. There are different shift patterns, and clashing conference calls to navigate, but if anything, it’s been a window into a different industry. A peek through the looking glass at worlds I previously knew little about.

It’s also been a crash course in picking up on subtle signals. Understanding when to give someone their space, and realising when not to. We all need time alone, especially when we are trying to process something as strange and all-encompassing as the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, but when you are ready to re-emerge, a friendly face waiting with a cup of tea and a Friends re-run on pause is the ultimate comfort blanket.

We’ve nested, taking the time to upgrade our home to be as comfortable and welcoming as possible, taking extra care to keep it nice for each other. There is no resentment about who has washed whose dishes. Some days, one of us might feel more productive than the others. And that’s OK.

While we are forced to be close to each other, physically, thanks to our living arrangements, this virus has also forced a different kind of closeness, one that can only come from this surreal and extraordinary experience.

I know I will remember the uncertainty and the fear for loved ones far away, but I’ll also remember the nights spent on the balcony signing along to Celine Dion, and the Easter Egg hunt we made for each other, despite there being no kids in sight.

As the world has evolved, so have we – from strangers to friends

None of us know when or how this is going to play out, but it’s becoming ever-more apparent that we are going to feel the effects long after the coronavirus loosens its grip on the world. We will always remember these weeks, this time when the world stopped. We will remember how it felt, and for my housemates and I, it’s a feeling we have felt together.

While we may only be a chapter in each other’s lives, one initially born out of a welcomed convenience, it’s a chapter that will serve as a forever reminder of the importance of human connection, the difference just having someone to ask how you are feeling or laugh at a TV show with makes. As the world has evolved, so have we – from strangers to friends.

Updated: April 15, 2020 07:22 AM

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