Blog by Jessica Bennett (Arts Administrator during ‘lockdown’)

As social distancing continues but lockdown is lifting, we ‘throw back’ to May 2020, and hear from our Arts Administrator at the time, when we were all still at home, movements restricted.

Somewhere in Time

Like all of us, this pandemic has put myself in a very unusual living situation. I have lived in the North East for nearly seven years, I first went for university in 2013 and loved Newcastle so much, I decided to stay. Seven years of being independent, living with my friends, multiple relationships, two degrees, many creative jobs, cooking what I want, eating when I want and staying out as a late as I want. This came to halt when the news struck of lockdown. My other flatmates decided to go home to their families, that I thought it would be best for me to do the same, given that I didn’t know how long this would go on for and the mental impact it would have on me doing it alone.

This was the first time I would be going back to Liverpool and living with family. For context, for the majority of my childhood, it has just been me and my mum. My mum is my everything. Since we left my dad when I was young, she has been my protector, my saviour and my light to get me through a lot of things. She is my best friend, my sister, my crazy aunt, everything I could ask for wrapped into one. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for this woman and I know she is the same with me. I know how rare it is to have a relationship like this with a parent, and I count myself lucky every single day.

Since I have moved away though, things have obviously changed dramatically, nevertheless, our relationship is still as close as ever. My mum is now living with her new partner and he also has two younger children from a previous marriage. Lockdown has been a very unfamiliar living situation for me, as not only am I living with someone 7 years on from when we last did, but I am now living with essentially three new people in a home which has never necessarily been mine. Don’t get me wrong, I have lived with them when I have come down to visit, but even then, over the years it has only ever been a long weekend at most.

Lockdown has been hard. The first few weeks of lockdown were pleasant given I hadn’t seen my family in a while, we had things to talk about, news to catch up on and the sense of solidarity that we are in this scary pandemic together. However, things began to turn when the uncertainty of this situation set in as well as the realisation that this is for the foreseeable. It is true what they say in that you don’t truly know someone until you have been living with them. People’s behaviours and patterns do start to aggravate you, especially if they do something different to how you do things. It’s strange how easy it is to fall back into the family dynamics of a mother/daughter relationship, almost as if you are 15 again. 15 and wanting your independence, but you can’t quite get it just yet. You question yourself whether you are being dramatic or unreasonable, after all this was me going into someone else’s space, rather than vice versa.

Then something very strange happened at Easter. I was on my last straw of feeling mentally drained, overwhelmed with the constant news updates, anxious with the unknown possibilities of what the future would bring and angry with the little nagging things which had been annoying me. I am ashamed to say it, but I did SNAP! Snapped over something so trivial. Before I knew it me and my mum were arguing in the kitchen, I could see the other three just staying out the way while me and my mum’s argument continued to explode. Our voices were getting louder and louder, over pointless things. All of a sudden, she just shouts

over me and says, ‘Go to your room!!’ To which I replied ‘Go to my room?! AM 25!’ We both stared at each other for a moment and then burst out laughing!

We are lucky we can make light of this situation and realise it is hard to not go back into the roles we have grown up living in. These are roles which are vital to your upbringing to give you that independence, and for that to be taken away from you for reasons beyond your control, it’s understandable that we are trying to fall into familiar patterns for a sense of comfort during these times. It has been difficult and challenging for us all and it is so hard right now to not feel angry with how the government have dealt with this, scared for our future, overwhelmed with the death tolls or if you are like me; anxious with this being an unsettling and unfamiliar space.