Detours column

Detours from home: My family isn’t so bad after all

Detours from home: My family isn’t so bad after all

Three days before the announcement of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), I was out at 1 in the morning having coffee and eating Jollibee miles away from home – just because I needed a break from my family.  

So, on top of battling a pandemic and trying to digest the vague guidelines from the government, imagine my horror upon the realization that I would be stuck at home with the very people I was trying to avoid. I was definitely not excited.  

As with many families, I would imagine, family relations can be complicated.  Pre-pandemic daily life at home was like living in a boarding house with strangers.  

My sister would be in her dorm for 6 days a week so it would just be me, my brother, and my mom at home. Most of the time, my mom and I would get home from work too tired to socialize with anyone so we would each just retreat to our own rooms to rest.  My brother and I fight like cats and dogs so we had settled on interacting as minimally as possible and exchanged a maximum of probably three to four conversational turns a day. 

If dinner was at home, we ate at different times, apart from each other (albeit not on purpose).  On the weekends when we did eat together, the round dining table could attest to the awkward silence of countless dinners, lunches, and breakfasts. We have been living in the comfort of our own rooms – as if already in isolation.  Everything was quiet and to be honest, quite lonely.      

The pandemic took every norm in the book and threw it out the window, and it was about to set the “new normal” for our family dynamics. The quarantine had of course forced us into togetherness – something that incredibly scared me in the beginning.    

In the first week of being home, my sister had slowly moved into my room.  It was the mattress at first, but before I knew it, she had already transferred her toothbrush, a bunch of skincare products, and her laptop into my space. She had successfully nested.    

My room has since then been filled with late-night waves of laughter from sharing memes and Telegram stickers, endless conversations on boys, the future, our latest Netflix watches, and of course, the trying state of the country (and of the world). It’s almost always 1 am already before we finally put our heart-to-hearts to rest.

After a while, we all started coming out of our caves and more time was spent in the living room than in our own rooms.  We would binge on a TV series or watch a movie while eating junk food. Even my dad, who does not live with us, dropped by more often.  The newfound warmth of the house must have eased his anxieties regarding the sudden halt of all his business ventures and primary sources of income.   

Still, my brother and I constantly tiptoed around each other, even with spending so much time together.  It wasn’t until we cooked together that something changed.  After a few consecutive days of prepping meals together, he would hurry to the kitchen in the morning and excitedly ask me, “you’re cooking today?” and he would even offer to help.  I’m quite sure I’m not the best cook but his excitement certainly made me feel like I was.  On Mother’s Day, we, siblings, even managed to surprise our mom with homemade ice cream despite being locked down together.  

Our dining room table became less and less lonely.  From cooking and setting the table, to eating lunch and dinner and washing the dishes – the round dining table now bore witness to our newfound togetherness. The house is suddenly vibrant with more shared laughter and noisy conversations bouncing off walls.   

The pandemic has undoubtedly stolen a lot from us (and more so from other families) – our freedom, routines, regular sources of income, the certainty and security of tomorrow; some hopes and dreams. But there is one thing it thankfully hasn’t taken away – our family.       

I don’t know when the COVID-19 situation will ease up but as we navigate through the new normal together, I hope this brand new home life is something I could bring with me. –

Bianca Mediatrix is a twenty-something from the south of the metro.  A speech therapist by day and a professional overthinker by night.  She loves good stories, the beach, animated movies, and the color yellow.