Whether you're living alone or with housemates, self-isolating or cocooning, or trying to home-school while holding down a job, we're all having to make adjustments in lockdown. Schedules have been upended, relationships are under strain, whether long distance or a bit too close, and those four walls are getting more testing by the day.
Thanks to my truly laughable timing, I'm having to adjust to life at home in quite a different way. Days before lockdown began, I flew into Dublin Airport, armed with three bags carrying my life's possessions that had been ruthlessly whittled down to adhere to British Airways baggage allowances. After seven and a half years of living in London, I was moving back home to Dublin.
While my escape from the UK was a bit frantic and tainted with the fear of the airports closing down, it was planned. In late 2019, I decided that for my own mental health, I needed to move back home to be with my friends and family.
Having moved to London in 2012 to complete a master's degree, I went on to find my dream job in entertainment journalism, attending premières and awards shows and probably acquiring many notions along the way, and met friends for life; but a city like that can get lonely, especially when your heart belongs elsewhere.
So I made the difficult decision to leave the place I had spent my 20s - the scene of joy and heartbreak and lessons and world-ending hangovers - and return, not only home, but actually home. To my parents' house.
It will be no surprise to anybody reading this who has attempted to move out that rental prices here are absolutely unhinged. Whereas I could afford rent in a nice flat in a homely area of London (with housemates), there was no hope I could walk into a similar abode in Dublin, particularly when I was leaving the stability of my London job.
So my only option was to move back into my home in Ballyfermot with my parents and brother. I know at this point you're probably whipping out the tiniest violin ever made - I know how lucky I am that I have a Dublin home to move into, never mind a family who I get on with. I am incredibly grateful and could not have moved back to Ireland without that safety net.
But anybody who has had a taste of independence will know that having that reversed is a serious, painful, jolt to the system. Gone is my double bed, to be replaced by a single in, not my childhood bedroom, but actually my brother's childhood bedroom, because I lost the big room when I left, aged 22. God, I miss that double bed. We all take starfishing for granted until it's no longer possible without rolling off the bed.
My wonderful flatmate and I had two distinct schedules and when I came home from work at 5pm, I could whip up a culinary storm, cooking an entire bag of gnocchi for myself, using every utensil in the gaff and eating said bag of gnocchi, along with an entire garlic baguette with nobody to watch me and shame me. Now, the kitchen is for four people and a dog, and I can hardly decide to make myself a fancy meal without doing four portions. That means no more bag of gnocchi for myself, I actually have to abide by the portion guidelines. The gall.
I don't have my own cupboard or my own shelf in the fridge. I'm torn between my desire to make that Thai dish I've been eyeing up and the burning rage I know I'll feel when I can't fit the chicken in the freezer or somebody uses my pak choi.
In my old flat, a loaf of bread would last days because I was usually the only one who'd eat it. Now, I have genuinely toyed with the idea of hiding the petit pain I planned to have with hummus behind a specifically built wall of tinned goods, which I have also reorganised and put on a Lazy Susan because I can't handle not knowing if we're out of chickpeas.
And why is the baking tray kept there? And where is the lid off the butter? AND WHY IS THAT KNIFE NOT IN THE DISHWASHER?
And despite being back six weeks now, my move home hasn't really started. Moving back during lockdown, bizarrely, has been a bit of a blessing in disguise. Having to stay home and having a few weeks off work has meant I've had time to clean and organise presses, make family dinners, and put on a wash of my own clothes before my parents get home. But once lockdown lifts and I can have a social life again, the real fear will set in.
Living on my own for seven years has meant that for those years, I was in charge of my life. I could go out on a whim after work and come home the next morning without letting anyone know where I was, go straight to bed and emerge eight hours later for a brief takeaway break before, you guessed it, going back to bed again. I could go on a date and not come home. (My dating life was an absolute disaster, so this rarely happened, but I could have and that's the main thing.) I could cancel plans or have people over on a whim, or do literally nothing. And that was all on me.
But I can't do that at home, and not because my parents aren't sound or anything, but because it feels… wrong. I was not a cool teenager and, for the most part, abided by the rules. Part of me wishes I could go back and be an absolute terror, then I might feel less guilty about going out on the lash.
I shudder to think about having to embark on a love life - not only is taking someone back to the house out of the question (my blood runs cold just thinking about it), but the questions I'd be asked before and after any date is enough to make a life of celibacy look rather appealing. At an age where some friends are getting married and having kids, I would rather stage a kidnapping than have my relatives know if I'd pulled.
I'm even concerned about shopping. Do I really want anybody to know about how much stuff I buy online? The mortification about my level of ASOS orders may actually eradicate my debt.
I know that I'm in the same, very crowded boat as many young Irish people. Eurostat figures from 2018 state that roughly 40pc of 25 to 29 year olds in Ireland were living with their parents, and with the cost of living, the so-called boomerang generation isn't budging any time soon.
There is nothing wrong with living with your parents and there is nothing wrong with living with my parents. They are kind and generous and loving, and I'm so glad to be home. But as a nearly 30-year-old who knows what it's like to be independent, I'm going to have to move out at some point pretty soon, because, as I told my mam when I asked to move home: "I love you, but I'll end up killing you." And vice versa - I know I'm not an ideal housemate either.
Being nearly 30 and having to text what time you'll be home at may not be the worst thing in the world, but at a time when I don't know if the industry I work in will exist in the same way in a few years and the idea of owning a house is mere fantasy, being able to choose to stay until last orders without guilt is more precious than you know. When the pubs reopen, that is.