The new house rules of my life under lockdown

What’s life like under lockdown for a university student who has moved back in with her family?

Hi, my name is Madeleine Hordinski, I’m 22, and I’m living at home with my parents and my 17-year-old sister in Cincinnati, Ohio.

20 March: I went on a social-distancing walk with my boyfriend, Krishna Nelson, in my neighbourhood, Walnut Hills. We did not get any closer than six feet for the mile-long walk.

The distance between me and my friends and me and my boyfriend right now has definitely been really tough. My boyfriend and I have actually been in a long-distance relationship for almost four years now, we go to school three hours apart.

And now that I’m home in Cincinnati where he goes to school, we’re kind of in this weird close-distance relationship where we see each other more often, but it’s outside and it’s from a distance. And so I think it’s been really difficult not knowing when we’re actually going to be able to hang out together again.

29 March: We have new rules in our house because of quarantine. As soon as I get home from work I wash my clothes and I take a shower and hand sanitise profusely, always.

I’ve been freelancing for PBS, and I’m covering a story that looks at how lower-income families are being affected by the coronavirus. I’ve been going to a homeless shelter and have been interacting with families – I have been doing everything I can to be as safe as possible

I’m also still at school at Ohio University attending online classes.

30 March: My sister and I drove to Mt Adams today since it was in the 60s (around 15C) – it’s a neighbourhood in Cincinnati with one of the best views of downtown, so we sat with the windows down to enjoy the view.

With regards to coronavirus in Cincinnati, a lot has happened recently, too. Just today, a bunch of employees tested positive for coronavirus at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which is I guess not shocking, but still really scary.

So it’s just getting closer and closer to home. We have more cases here everyday, obviously, and more people dying as well. So I’ve been pretty much staying at home, spending a lot of time with my sister.

8 April: Sabina and her friend Avery, who is also a senior, return to their high school, Walnut Hills, to do a social distancing workout around the track.

My sister is having a hard time missing out on the milestones of her final year of high school, and trying to stay motivated with all classes moved online. “Sometimes it’s hard to not feel so isolated,” she says.

I’m feeling a lot more comfortable this week being quarantined. Not as overwhelmed and exhausted as I’ve felt in the past. But it is obviously really scary to see how many people are getting it around the US, because it is a lot different state by state and city by city.

11 April: We ate pizza and salad for dinner before having a movie night. My sister and my dad set up the screen for the projector before our social distancing movie night with our neighbours.

We watched Monsters, Inc. since we have four young neighbours.

13 April: My dad is a professional musician, he writes and plays guitar for people and he also teaches at the University of Cincinnati sometimes. Right now obviously all that is online. He also has a recording studio across from our house where he works, and he is still writing music.

14 April: My mom is an outreach coordinator at a local high school in Cincinnati and her job is to coordinate volunteer opportunities with her students.

She’s been working on sewing masks using old curtains, clothes and rags. She plans to send the masks to family and friends.

A teacher at my mom’s school died suddenly last week. The teacher’s death was unrelated to the coronavirus and came as a huge shock to my mom’s school community.

Since the teacher’s family couldn’t hold a funeral because of the pandemic, over 100 people showed up in cars to drive by her house to show their love and support.

My mom made a special poster for the family and put it in her car window. Her sign said ‘Praying for you, our hearts are with you’. It was just really cool to see how the community came together.

My perception of family has definitely changed since all this started too because I think I’ve become more attentive to how much I value my relationship with my sister. We’ve been doing so much together like running, cooking, dancing, so many things.

You know we still annoy each other but yeah it’s been nice spending a lot more time with her.

I think my family dynamics have changed too, everyone’s has. I think probably subconsciously we’ve been really good at giving each other space during the day, to just have our own time to work or to spend time alone.

And then at the end of the day we all get together and we eat dinner, sometimes we play a game, hang out with our neighbours from afar or just watch a movie.

It’s been incredible to see how kind people have been to each other, and how inventive people have been, too. I’ve loved seeing how musicians have walked down the street playing songs for everyone, or people have projected movies onto the side of apartment buildings so an entire apartment can watch a movie together from afar.

My little neighbour (who lives on the left side of the building) named Matilda turned five years old and had an ocean-themed birthday with her family. So my boyfriend, who owns a balloon company, brought over ocean-coloured balloons for her.

I think people are really coming together in a way they haven’t in a while, and that’s been really cool to see.

Produced by Hannah Long-Higgins and Robin Levinson-King


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