In two weeks from now I will have moved out of my apartment away from Maastricht, back home. I’m excited to be back and doing something different, but if there’s one thing I’m really going to miss about being here, and living with my friends, it’s privacy.
When we moved into this apartment, my parents came to visit. One of the first things my Mum said when she walked through the door was, “Jesus, you won’t be living anywhere this nice again for at least the next 15 years.” She could not have been more right. Moving home is what’s happening, and goodness knows how long I’ll be there for.
When I consider the prospect of moving back to the house I grew up in, I think of my bedroom door. With two glass panes cut out from the centre you can see straight into the room from the hallway. When I was 7 my Dad cut these holes into the door with the intention that the sunlight from my room would be able to light the dark hall. The door is old, and doesn’t fit the frame anymore. Closing it is merely symbolic.
In the morning, the floorboards light up. As someone switches on the bathroom light below, the bulb casts a yellow glow through the cracks, lighting my ceiling. I can hear the weather report on the radio and I can tell who is in there by the way they turn on the taps.
It’s the kind of space from which you can hear all the motions of daily life in the house, and I’ve always been acutely aware that if I can hear them, they can hear me. At home there’s a merging of space, the boundaries of what’s mine, and what’s theirs overlap and blur. It’s not that we’re all sharing toothbrushes, but by moving home you go back to being one of a whole, rather than one of three.
Last summer, I hung a curtain on the back of the bedroom door, in an effort to muffle the light and the noise from the rest of the house. I’m almost entirely sure it made little to no difference. I’ve learnt that efforts to stop the noise and the light from seeping out or creeping in are interpreted as hostile actions and not as reasonable requests. It’s a fact that living at home is just different.
Phoebe Ellis-Rees, Student at Arts&Culture