My girlfriend and I sat in our parked car for an hour on Sunday night. We listened to Harry Styles’ most recent album “Fine Line” in full, discussed ideas for tattoos and home renovations, then went back inside. It wasn’t much, but it felt good to spend time together outside our 500-square foot Edgewater apartment.
Over the past three weeks under the “stay-at-home” mandate, we’ve baked banana bread, made piña coladas and put together a makeshift birthday party for her 22nd. One thing the at-home events have certainly taught us is that it doesn’t take long to fill our below-average-sized sink with dirty dishes. Nonetheless, we’re both acutely aware of how lucky we are to be able to have food, drinks and companionship to pass the time—and that neither of us have been impacted too greatly by the coronavirus pandemic.
One thing that has drastically changed, though, is our post-graduate plan. We previously didn’t know where we’d be going or what we’d be doing until about a month ago, before the pandemic took shape in the United States. We only recently decided we will be returning to our hometown of Peoria to pursue any employment opportunities available for us and live in a two-bedroom home with a garage, a back yard and a price tag of nearly half the amount of rent we’re currently paying for our apartment. We’re set to move at the end of this month.
We charted our course, and now we’re making the most of the final few weeks in our first apartment together, one we have lived in for two years. There will be more firsts down the road for us—we’ll get married, get a dog, buy a car—but the first apartment feels like the biggest one so far because it was the first leap in our relationship. Now, as a photographer, it’s equally important to capture the end of two eras: our lives in Edgewater and life before the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Making photographs during self-isolation has been uncanny. Many trademarks of this apartment have all but disappeared—no more groups of neighbors walking their dogs after dinner or traffic noise on Sheridan Road until 3 a.m.
That being said, the scenery has remained the same, with the street light outside our bedroom window still illuminating and the sun continuing to cast shadows on the building behind our own. It’s in those details where I find the most relief from the plethora of anxieties running through my head—knowing that despite all the change, we can still count on that street light and those shadows to stay the same.
At the end of the day, I’m grateful for those dirty dishes and the love that comes with them. We’ll soon be on our way out of the city and on to the next, and given the circumstances, we certainly won’t be forgetting our time here. I look forward to working in our yard, hanging art on the walls and having a drink at the home bar built into our half-finished basement.
Once we’re allowed to gather again, we’ll have a party—and you’re all invited.