Self-Quarantine Diary

The escalation of COVID-pandemic has made it a long Spring in Hungary since its outbreak in the middle of March. While many families drowned in negative experiences during the period of the curfew restrictions, me and my family felt fortunate for our older relatives and ourselves to remain healthy and for being able to keep our jobs. We managed to get over the damages and hardships caused by social distancing and we are now ready to examine the positive and negative consequences of the politics of isolation.

Our four children, my mother-in-law, my wife and I, we undertook voluntary quarantine in our home in Budakeszi from March 14th until the official reopening of the kindergartens in June. General safety being of utmost importance, almost everyone strictly adhered to the isolation until its final moments in the end of June. In my case it’s true that I started photographing outside of our home from the end of April, besides documenting our forcibly changed lives since the beginning of our quarantine. It wasn’t easy at first, as a documentary photographer, I was not used to being at home all the time.

In theory, the 4 children- 3 adults ratio might seem to be ideal, however in practice, it was very challenging. The children are very young and since the beginning, the previously much-appreciated kindergarten teachers turned into irreplaceable heroes in our eyes. Nevertheless, these two and a half months spent with the children enrichened us with unforgettable memories: the breakfasts together, the shared activities and the continuous coexistence added a lot to our relationship and to our lives. While living the slow life of the quarantine, fear of the unexpected loomed into our lives. Until then, we had thought of our lives to be flowing in a computable manner. We felt in control and planned ahead. The pandemic however showed that, all of that was mere illusion and our lives could change from one minute to the other, even here, in a quite peaceful corner of the world.

Before rebooting into our normal lives again, we must think over what things would be worth changing and also what challenges we might face in the future. The past period has been difficult but we’ve tried to make the most of it. The unexpected situation helped us to get to better know ourselves, to reevaluate the truly important things, to redefine family and our values. This exceptional circumstance made us reshape our attitudes and reinforce our decisions. Though exhausting, it brought us closer to our goals and our true selves. It brought along conflicts, and with them new solutions and of course the realization, that the World can turn upside down again at any time.  It’s important to note that we withstood the hardships of the lockdown, aside the fact that deep down we knew the situation could not be further from the ideal everyday life.

Although it might seem comfortable and relaxing, spending 10 weeks in quarantine was too long a time. Opposite to harmonic cohabitation, confinement and isolation from the outside world enhanced previously present problems which didn’t necessarily come up to the surface before. Looking back, we can consider ourselves part of the fortunate few who could make bonds stronger during the time of social distancing,  it seems we managed to ease the overall tension, and the arising confusion in the children.

Antónia and David rejoined kindergarten after the first wave, and Granny moved back to her Budapest-house.  And so even if for a short time, almost everything was back to pre-coronavirus pandemic normality. We aimed to enjoy ourselves throughout the summer and in the  given atmosphere, also to prepare for the unknown, because we knew we must be at the very beginning of the coronavirus crisis. We are now again in voluntary quarantine, waiting for the current wave to pass. However the next period unwinds, one thing is for certain: no one and nothing will ever be the same as before the pandemic.