Germany, Zeven: Anita Kappes, 18, student

4 | Essay-collection by students of a 12th grade English course

Human desire is something strange, isn’t it? It is an eternal circle in life that goes round and round without ever stopping just like the heart that never stops. When you are out in public, you long for loneliness, for time just for yourself. However, once you are in self-isolation and sitting at home all alone, you miss the crowded places and want to go back. We always

want what we cannot have.

How I know this? I experienced it in a way I couldn’t imagine before I ever would: a virus had broken out and covered the whole planet with illness and death. Sounds like a line from a bad movie, right?

You never think it would affect you till it actually does”, I said. I was sitting in my room on a sunny Tuesday morning, chatting with my cousin Natalia on Skype. Well basically, it was me listening to her complain about how boring and terrible it was for her to be stuck at home after school closed and the people were banned into self-isolation until the worst of the Corona-virus would be over. Natalia signed. “True. I didn’t think it would reach us. I mean, at first everyone thought it was a joke, but look at us now. This quarantine is such a hell for me. I am nothing without my busy daily routine. I already see myself breaking like a cracker out of this boredom.” She is over-dramatic again. Now it was my turn to sign: “Sooner or later the lock-down will end so calm down” – “Oh, that’s an easy thing for you to say! I know how much you enjoy being alone, having your annoying, relaxing time drinking tea or whatever.” She had a point. In fact, the self-isolation was the perfect possibility for me to find myself and to do everything I didn’t have the time to do before.

We always want what we cannot have

We said goodbye to each other and I stood up from my bed. Warm sun rays from the windows on the east-facing side of our flat dipped the corridor in yellow light as I stepped out of my room. I was surrounded by silence since my parents weren’t at home. As I walked towards the kitchen I thought about the things I could do today and ideas unfolded in my head. In front of the door I stopped and turned around to the living room which was opposite the kitchen. My eyes were fixed on the balcony door.

Oh, this could be a great idea too”, I thought.

A moment later I was already standing on the balcony and felt the warmth on my naked arms. With this I had my answer. I went back to my room to grab my sunglasses and the book I was currently reading. It was already almost eleven o’clock and I had to hurry when I wanted to catch the sun while it was on this side of our house. In the afternoon our balcony would lay in shadow. Home alone, wonderful weather and no homework to do – yes, this was going to be a great day.

When I arrived on the balcony again, our neighbour had already switched on his radio what he always did when he was about to work in the garden. When I looked down over the railing, I saw him laying the short garden path which led from the house to the old shed – again. He already did this several times and I was pretty sure he would soon notice how old and unsightly the shed was and rebuild it. This was his hobby and all the other neighbours hated him for it. However, I didn’t care about this as much as my mum did, so it wouldn’t bother me today either.

I made myself comfortable on the lounger we brought here the other day and started reading. When was the last time I could just lay down without worrying about anything and read a book? The lock-down sure had its positive and great side. It gave me the chance to have a rest from the stress and the people that tired me out and to be alone. Yeah, Natalia really was right: I liked it to be all by myself.

Human desire is something strange, isn’t it?

After some time, my body was hot from the sun and I felt sweat running down my calf. I put the book aside and stood up to go in again. The flat felt cold after my sunbath. What else could I do today? There was this one smoothie recipe have wanted to try out for a while now. Maybe today was the perfect day for it. With this thought in my head I went to the kitchen and started preparing the ingredients. When I took out the raspberries from the fridge I heard loud, high-pitched voices from outside, therefore I turned my head to the window, which was right next to the fridge, to take a look on what was going on. This is when I saw the neighbour’s kids playing together in their garden, laughing and shouting.

Human desire is something strange, isn’t it?
The forgotten bowl of raspberries still in my hands I watched the children. When would I meet my friends like this again? Will the world ever be the same as it was before? Well, who is the over-dramatic now? But in fact, in this moment such thoughts crossed my mind. I didn’t feel particularly lonely. Yes, I missed my friends and the time we spent together but more than that, as I watched the kids play and splash around in der big swimming pool, I realized: I wanted my life back.

I wanted to go shopping without being afraid of people. I wanted to go to a public outdoor pool or to a concert. The lock-down wasn’t the real problem here. The loneliness at home wasn’t that terrible, but the one in public was. There was this fear inside of me of going into town because I just felt so uncomfortable and restricted there – and lonely. Everyone seemed to be terribly far away from me.

Why did I never realize how good we had it before? …Maybe because we always realize it too late.
I heard the footsteps of my parents in the public stairwell, and several seconds later the metallic sound of the key turning in the keyhole sounded and my parents came in, chatting about something. I didn’t really pay attention to what it was. When my mum realized I hadn’t been moving for a while and kept staring out of the window, she asked: “What’s the matter with you? Everything okay?” – “No. No, actually not.”

Because we always want what we cannot have.