Roman. Polina Soyref, portrait photographer

Roman, 31, software engineer

interviewed on 2 May 2020

We all adapt to a new—hopefully temporary—reality, and we all go through a particular path. You lock yourself at home, and you don’t understand: what now? When will it end? You quickly abandon illusions of having lots of time or ideas of home maintenance, of binges of youtube self-education—because you’ve got a child at home. Staying at home quickly becomes a matter of emotional survival: what can you do to delay putting your child in front of the TV right from the morning? With this in mind, how do you work from home? And I’m not even talking about time for yourself.

For the first few days, I had a feeling of lightness and opportunities, but it quickly decayed into a lack of time and work pressure. Only after a few weeks, we had a routine established at home which helped manage day-to-day expectations. Weekends blended together with weekdays, but I managed to find time to rest as well.

You notice a drop in requirements to have a good time. I longed for meeting people in real life, but then we organized a zoom meeting—and wow! —I never thought that a video call can be something enjoyable. It ended up being one of those things giving you energy, almost like a real party, which I didn’t expect at all.

I know I will want to go to St. Petersburg and Helsinki the moment the borders are opened again, but right now, I don’t long for travel. I just want things to become normal again at first, at least in my city. These times got me to see with my own eyes how unmet basic needs make other things seem superficial. I don’t need a trip to the Mediterranean sea if I’m missing real people, talking, and casual town walks. Most of all, I miss relaxing time with people without infection risk assessment or guilt. It’s unfair to feel this when you just want to be with your close friends.

I find it curious how social responsibility is a spectrum, and everyone chooses how much they’re doing to stop the spread and how much to be anxious about. I guess I’m about in the middle. I’m not too relaxed, but I also don’t follow every single recommendation. I like that everyone decides for themselves, that everyone has to think and mindfully choose their actions. I agree with some people, I disagree with others, but it’s an interesting situation, where all people are facing the same problem and act in various ways.

I also thought about how differently you can look at what’s happening. I have a feeling that many people are concentrating on how bad the situation is. They talk about how people are reselling masks for profit, how important goods are sold at inflated prices, and so on. 

But on the other hand, the world has stopped so that 1% of people, mostly elderly, wouldn’t die. Isn’t it phenomenal? Yes, we know it’s going to cause a recession, that it’s going to be tough, but right now, it’s important that people shouldn’t die. To me, it proves we’re living in an amazing, humanist world, where people’s lives matter.

“Tell me your story”