By Hannah Tyler
I don’t know if I’m particularly good at this because I live away from home, but I can be in two places at once. Sometimes when I’m standing in my bedroom in London, I’m also standing in my mother’s kitchen in Australia, clutching a cup of tea. My feet are bare on the floor, and I can hear cicadas outside the fly wire door.
Occasionally I’ll go to a desert in Bolivia, where the snow capped mountains in the distance loom against the bluest sky I’ve ever seen. It is still that blue in my head. Or feel the spongy moss beneath my feet on old lava fields by the ocean in Iceland. Sometimes I’m swinging gently in a hammock whilst the flooded Amazon River floats by me.
Am I travelling in space or in time? They are memories, but all of those things are still there. Is half my brain in Bolivia in 2011? Or is it in the photo that sits on my chest of drawers?
Its been said again and again that our period of isolation has affected our perceptions of time. March has felt like a year, but the more I get used to being in my room, the more I can feel time flashing by. Maybe April will be a week. But what of our perceptions of space? We live in our rooms, work (if you are lucky (?) enough to still have a job) in our rooms—or your home office, if you’re fancy.
How do we imagine the physical space of a life online? We were beginning to do this in the ‘before’ times, but now we really do live through the internet. Sometimes it feels like an entire work meeting is standing in my room. Standing on the end of the bed, standing on the desk (it isn’t very stable), standing on the chair. It’s like a dinner party that I don’t mentally have enough seats for (I’ve never head a real adult dinner party, this is just a metaphor). If I open my window, can I crawl through my Zoom box into yours?
Maybe the architecture of the future lives in the shared imagined realities in our heads, more like memories than actual places. That same way we imagine history, or visualize stories in books we’ve read.
Or maybe I just need to go for a walk. I haven’t been out today.