Here in Vienna, Spring is descending on us like a soothing balm. The days are getting longer, the temperature is getting warmer, birds are singing, flowers blooming, and we are stuck inside looking out, resenting all of it.
When the restrictions started, the weather was still cold and we had a week of icy winds and intermittent rain. We all smirked to ourselves and laid back on our couches, thinking “Stay inside all day? Okay, government, if you insist”. But now that the world has spun a little further along its orbit and the season is changing, this deal we struck is no longer sitting quite so comfortably.
With society stuck sitting in a timeout and the tempting outside and all the things we used to enjoy about it being denied to us, to me it comes down to how we use what we still have. It’s all about maximising on The Great Indoors.
Alex and I share a one-bedroom, 65m2 apartment, equipped with the usual kitchen, bathroom, toilet, living room, and, to ensure we can still have a taste of fresh air and don’t go mad and attack each other after succumbing to claustrophobia, a balcony. But, when viewed from the right perspective, it can become so much more. Let me take you on a tour.
Let’s start with the couch. Ours is a three-person grey chaise lounge, which, should the situation call for it, can be converted into a bed. This situation arises when we have international guests staying with us for a stretch or we feel like being extra snuggly. Since the start of the lockdown, we have discovered just how versatile this seemingly simple piece of furniture can be. For the past three weeks our couch has functioned as a restaurant, La Patate de Canapé (it just translates to the Couch Potato, but sounds a lot classier in French). Here we dine on the most exquisite of foods, enjoying the comfortable homey atmosphere and sparkling conversation. The only downside is that this restaurant insists you cook your own food and clean up after you’re done. Fricken meta restaurants.
The couch is also our theatre, where we sip on wine and indulge in the finest cinema that Netflix has to offer. It is an intellectual salon where we discuss and debate such hotbed topics as the global financial situation, America’s healthcare system, and whether I should shave off my beard (Alex is the most passionate about the latter and is strongly opposed). And, when necessary, the couch acts as a place where Alex can nod off for a spell. These power naps of hers can last anywhere between ten minutes and two hours. She never knows going in, so it’s always a gamble.
But the functionality of our limited space doesn’t begin and end with the couch, we also have an entire living room floor which can transmogrify into an array of locations. This section of flooring, whose purpose is normally only to create enough distance from ourselves and the television, has become our morning yoga studio where our bodies stretch and bend (or don’t, depending on the pose). It acts as our gaming centre where we pit our word skills against one another across the arena of the scrabble board. I win about fifty percent of the time. I try not to let the fact that Alex speaks English as a second language ruin those victories. (We also used to play the card game “Spit” in our games centre, but it turns out I have a preternatural ability to win that game and that Alex has the preternatural ability to summon the rage of a berserker when losing, so we don’t talk about that game in our house anymore.)
The floor can also be a massage parlour, a dance floor, and, when necessary, it acts as a place where Alex can nod off for a spell. Girl really loves her naps.
Let me now take you through to the water closet, and on this part of the tour I must ask that you refrain from using flash photography. The porcelain throne is a wonderful place to get some me-time, offering a quiet getaway where one can delve into a book, catch up on the rest of the world with a good scroll through instagram, finally answer those messages from friends and family you’ve been meaning to get to, or just sit in the silence with your thoughts for a while. And, if the situation calls for it, eliminate bodily waste.
With a little creativity, the right perspective, and a dash of quarantine-induced madness, our humble abode has the potential to become anything we need it to be. I recommend you take the time to explore the mysteries and see the sights of your own Great Indoors while we all wait for the world to spin a little further in its orbit to that point in the future where we are free to roam outside again together.