17 April 2020
It is a bright and breezy April day. If I look up from my laptop and out through the window, I can see the tops of the trees swaying in the wind. I can hear sparrows chirping and the jackdaws that nest on my chimney are bickering away as usual. My cat, Nutmeg, is asleep and warming my feet. I feel content, rested, and very fortunate to have such a home – especially now.
Home is the building I inhabit and have made my own (although let’s be honest, Nutmeg is the one who calls the shots here) and it is also the immediate community. Oddly enough in these past few weeks I have become closer to, not more distant from, my neighbours. We ask after each other as we put out the bins and pull out the weeds; have friendly shouted conversations from our doorways. The intergenerational nature of the village has also become more noticeable to me since we’ve been told to stay at home and avoid unnecessary journeys. In the past three weeks I’ve had more conversations with one of my neighbours, who is in his eighties, than I’ve had with him in the previous nearly-four years of me living here. He’s always gone for walks around the village and surrounding countryside during the day, but I didn’t know this before because I was away at work. It’s interesting to me how this virus has shaken up our everyday temporalities, spatialities and relationships.
I wonder what you remember of this/that time. How did it change you? How did it change the relationships we have with each other and what we value? Over the past few days I have been shocked at the treatment of some people during this pandemic; regarded as an afterthought, bracketed off and ‘othered’ because of their age and circumstances. I hope there is more compassion where (well, when) you are.
I want to know who and what matters to you in your life. Who do you care about? Who cares about you? Who do you spend your time with? What do you spend your time doing? What do you look forward to? What makes you annoyed?
I suppose it’s the everydayness of your life that I’m interested in. And while that’s hard for me to imagine, I know that if you can see the trees from your window, and hear the birds singing, and maybe even have a cat resting at your feet, you’ll be doing just fine.
Melanie Lovatt is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Stirling. Her research interests include ageing, time and relationships. She is currently leading the ESRC-funded project Reimagining the Future in Older Age, which uses creative methods to explore the relationship between older age and future time.