How I Became the Main Character After 22 Years

A little overview of what happened to me during the lockdown

Réka Barabás
Mar 4 · 4 min read
Credit: Doodle Houses — Seamless Pattern by frimages from elements.envato.com

I remember very well the day I first heard of it. Sometime at the beginning of January 2020, I stumbled upon one of the first articles that discussed the matter. I found the link on Twitter and after reading, I went downstairs to tell my parents not to book a vacation to China because there is a new virus spreading. It was a joke of course. We’ve never been there but we certainly weren’t planning. As the matter of fact, we haven’t been on a family vacation in a few years because we were doing some major house renovations and the vacation days were filled with housework. Little did we know that we would be spending the majority of the next months in the newly renovated house, adding another year without an actual vacation to the list.

When I read that article, in my mind there wasn’t even the possibility of it spreading to where I was living. China is so far, how could it? We were safe right there. But just a month later it tore apart Italy. “Coronavirus” was all over the media, there was no escaping it. And I still couldn’t believe that it would spread literally everywhere. In 2020 we certainly must have protocols of containing it, and people should have the common sense of following a couple of basic rules… Well, that was probably only true for New Zealand. Everything got shut down. My brother moved back from university, my mom started teaching online. Only my dad had to keep going to work, but he was very careful not to get in contact with too many people. After all, if someone from the company gets sick they might have to shut it down entirely and that is bad news.

Being in my room all day hasn’t been as dramatic to me as to other people I assume. I am an introvert and I am used to it. I am also working on building up my career from scratch, which takes up all my time, so I wasn’t really angry about having to stay at home. A few months prior I decided to take a year off from university, not to start my MA degree directly, so the pandemic actually made me feel less guilty about the choice of trying to develop personal projects for a year. I was also extremely fortunate because I already moved back to my parents’ house and I didn not have extra expenses, therefore I did not have to get a job.

As incredible this may sound, my social life was also much better than before, it doesn’t matter if it was completely online. All of my very few old friends were living in different cities anyways. I met a lot of people. Much more. And because we shared the experience of our first pandemic, we were connected somehow, it was a topic that everyone wanted to talk about, to be consoled, to find out first hand information about specific countries and measures… It was a great conversation starter. I made friends fast, friends that are still friends. Some got lost on the way, true, but I also met my BEST friend. It started like almost any other online friendship. With a YouTube comment and then an Instagram direct message. But this was different, because after that DM we could not stop sending each other messages, the conversation flowed effortlessly. We are both musicians so the mutual struggle of starting out in the middle of a pandemic was only one of the things that we had in common. One very specific moment kicked off the actual growth of our relationship, the moment when I jokingly said that I hate him for doing something that he should not be hated for. Something tiny, not even mentionable. But after an hour of no reply, I got a song. An apology song. That afternoon the text conversation turned into a song conversation and that evening turned into a habit of sending a song to each other every single night. We saved the lyrics in a shared Google Docs that currently has 323 pages and captures almost seven months of our daily lives and the musical dialogue conserves the evolution of our relationship.

Did I mention that we lived 1,300 kilometers apart? We met in June for the first time, when the first set of major measures were lifted and I could travel by plane. It is still crazy to think about it because the story feels like a script out of a Netflix movie: two people conversing through songs from different countries end up living together 7 months later, both working on their dream career in the middle of a pandemic? Yeah, sounds like a romcom to me, yet it’s true. But hey, I am the main character!

Everything that happened last year feels surreal still, but looking back, it was one of the best years of my life. I worked extremely hard to get a few steps closer to my goals, in October I went back to university (who would have thought? Not me), I moved to a different country with a stranger I met on the internet and now I’m writing this article from a place of absolute no regret. That period taught me that even if everything seems to fall apart and feels like getting somewhere is harder and harder with every step, I am still in charge of my own life and choices. I have the power and ability to make a change if I am not satisfied, and I can do it. I am doing it. Man, what a main character line..

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Réka Barabás

Written by

singer-songwriter with a Film degree

The Shadow

We publish inspiring stories about different topics for a productive and entertaining life

Réka Barabás

Written by

singer-songwriter with a Film degree

The Shadow

We publish inspiring stories about different topics for a productive and entertaining life

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