A YEAR OF HOME LOVE By Cassandra Ratkevich
Updated: Mar 15
Positive domestic outcomes of a time of pandemic
The Year I Didn’t Go to School by Giselle Potter was once a favorite bedtime picture book of mine. The story follows a young Potter journaling the highlights from the year she traveled through Italy with her family’s theater troupe instead of attending school. Potter begins by writing, “These are the best things that happened to me the year I didn’t go to school,” and dedicates each subsequent page to a certain event, ranging from “wove cowboy boots” to “performed in a theatre outside.”
The book always seemed unusual and unrealistic to me, but I would be lying if I said my younger self was not tremendously jealous of Potter’s adventures.
It seems irrational that I would ever relate to a storybook from my childhood, but I have not been learning from inside a school building since March 13, 2020.
So, in young Potter fashion, this is the best thing that happened to me the year I didn’t go to school: I was finally able to make my bedroom mine.
Revamping a home space does not seem like the most fun or impactful thing one could do with a year off of school. And yet, I found it to be one of the most important projects I invested time into this past year.
In the years preceding the 2020 quarantine, I did not think much of the four barren white walls I called my bedroom. I ignored my parents’ nagging as they suggested that I hang up pictures or add some color. After all, I spent eight or more hours every day at school, soccer practice, and extracurriculars and usually completed homework in the dining room. My bedroom did not mean anything to me beyond being a place with a bed to sleep in, and I did not need it to be anything more.
This mindset shifted after the first weeks of quarantine in March 2020. Like everyone else during this time, I was forced to spend significantly longer periods in my house and, more specifically, my bedroom. My room shifted from solely being a place to sleep to being a classroom, a creative workplace, a movie theater, and a gym while also having to function as a place for me to relax and unwind. I knew that my four white walls were not going to suffice anymore.
The first steps I took to better my surroundings included reminding myself of the friends whom my weeks at home had restricted me from seeing. I started basic, sending photos to be printed to create a photo wall. Those beginning photos greatly changed my thoughts about the room. I looked at them and was filled with pre-pandemic thoughts. It felt serene.
And so came more. More color. More pictures of friends. More artwork, both my own and dug out from hidden away basement storage. More plants and mirrors. More forgotten knickknacks from drawers and closets. I continued to rearrange the main pieces of furniture in my room too, each time greatly enjoying the change in scenery from my bed.
I discovered that the more effort and time placed making my room consist of things I love, the easier it got spending the majority of my time there. It also lessened the difficulties of trying to create separate school and creative spaces, because I genuinely enjoyed being in the room for both.
Although the year I didn’t go to school consisted more of me taping pictures and hammering nails into my walls rather than traveling in Italy, I found my experience just as fulfilling.
Cassandra Ratkevich is a junior at Columbia High School. As a rising captain of the girls' varsity soccer team, secretary of her class, and co-president of the MapSo Cares club, Cassandra has had plenty to stay busy with during her time at home in addition to home projects.