How Coronavirus Is Sending Millennials Back To Their Childhood Bedrooms
When grown children move back to their parents’ houses to shelter in place, they‘re confronted with their teenaged selves’ notion of ‘cool’ décor. And it isn’t always pretty. How Coronavirus Is Sending Millennials Back To Their Childhood Bedrooms
FOR THE PAST month, I’ve woken up swaddled in butterfly bedding, feet dangling off the twin-size bed of my childhood. Blinking groggily at the furry furniture in the corner and magazine cutouts plastered on closet doors, I’ve fought the faint fear that perhaps I’m still in high school, the intervening six years merely an elaborate dream.
Sleeping in the time capsule that is my childhood bedroom was fine for the odd weekend trip from Brooklyn to Westchester County. But now that I’ve joined the swelling ranks of young adults who are indefinitely riding out the pandemic back in their parents’ house, my teen taste is closing in on me.
“In high school, I thought I had the world’s coolest room,” said New York media professional Margaret Abrams, 30. The childhood room in Boca Raton, Fla., to which she has boomeranged features flower-shaped cushions and a cork wall devoted to old party invites and prom snapshots. On previous trips home, she’d spent so much time out, the room’s age-inappropriate décor didn’t plague her. “For the first time in 12 years I’m like, OK, maybe it’s time to get rid of some stuff.”
I’ve fought the fear that perhaps I’m still in high school, the intervening six years merely an elaborate dream.
The style of my temporarily abandoned Brooklyn apartment might be characterized as typical millennial: heavy on midcentury modern furniture (one authentic score from Facebook Marketplace, a few contemporary knockoffs), a hand-me-down leather sofa in deep blue, lots of plants whose fate I shudder to contemplate. Despite ceiling moldings and parquet floors, a certain minimalism defines the space.
My younger self, in contrast, liked her collections: tiny crystal animals, porcelain dolls, lots of white wicker and antique pillboxes for stashing pennies. I appreciate that my mom had kept my room intact as a reminder of my childhood, but I had to banish some of these treasures to the closet. I cloaked my hirsute chair in a white herringbone-weave coverlet and plopped a white pillow on it. It’s my room, after all.
Dak Kopec, interior architect and author of “Environmental Psychology for Design” (Fairchild Books), said our old possessions have their purpose: “That furry chair might anchor you to a place and time in your life that hopefully evokes security and self awareness.” But that shouldn’t bar us from updating these spaces to better reflect our adult lives. “Imagine a brick foundation and all you’re doing is laying down new bricks,” Mr. Kopec said.
Not everyone’s families have preserved the rooms where the children studied indifferently for SATs. While some parents see their role as providing a place the child can always come home to, Mr. Kopec noted, others feel their job is done once they’ve raised a responsible, productive citizen—who can occasionally bed down in a sleeping bag in the parents’ new home office. “Neither approach is wrong,” he said.
New York communications professional Sarah Murray, 26, arrived home to find her Omaha, Neb., bedroom had become a guest room that was a catchall for random art: a painting of the Kansas City skyline, a birch-tree landscape and a floor-to-ceiling giraffe portrait from Hobby Lobby that reflects her mother’s appreciation of the animal’s gentleness. “You know when there’s too much art and nobody knows what’s going on?” Ms. Murray said. Colleagues with whom she videoconferences teased her that the hodgepodge room “looks like a timeshare condo for a lake home.”
“I wasn’t attached to my room, that’s no problem,” said Ms. Murray. “I’m proud of how I’ve evolved and changed and it’s kind of fun, but the walls…”
Asked why they hadn’t turned their children’s bedrooms into craft rooms or gyms in the intervening years, some parents insisted the rooms still belonged to their original occupants. “I didn’t give it a lot of thought, because I was always hoping she would come home,” said Ms. Abrams’s mom, Debbie.
I wondered if changing my room’s décor would rob my mother of the connection it held to my younger, pillbox-hoarding self. No, she said. She understood that my panicked impulse to shroud that furry chair just made the space more suitable for me at 23. “I’m fine with it,” she said. “It’s just an updated version of my daughter. It’s a treat having you home, even if it’s for bad reasons.”
Some States Lifted Coronavirus Restrictions, but Did People Go Out?
Data show people went out in trickles, not droves, with clothing stores and travel-related spots among the most popular destinations.
After weeks of shutdowns to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, several states started easing their restrictions on nonessential businesses last weekend, welcoming customers back and letting some employees return to work.
Data from Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina show people came out in trickles rather than droves, but travel, clothes and entertainment topped the list.
While retail foot traffic is still much lower than last year at this time, the three states showed a slight uptick compared with recent weekends when the social-distancing orders were in place, according to location-based data from analytics firm Unacast.
Retail foot traffic saw a slight bump over previous weekends in states that loosened restrictions.
In Georgia, more than 4 million people visited stores on Saturday, the most since March 19, before the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect. Saturday also brought the most foot traffic retail shops in Oklahoma and South Carolina have had since March.
South Carolina started easing restrictions on nonessential businesses April 20, when Gov. Henry McMaster announced clothing, furniture and sporting goods stores, among other retailers, could open that day, as long as they limited occupancy and ensured customers could still social distance while there. Salons and barber shops in Georgia and Oklahoma were allowed to reopen Friday.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp also allowed gyms and fitness centers to open Friday, with restaurants allowed to resume dine-in service Monday. His order allowing businesses to reopen has stirred controversy and Atlanta’s Democratic Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she disagrees with the governor and is asking people to stay home while the coronavirus pandemic persists.
The biggest draw in two of the states were travel-related, which includes visits to hotels, booking agencies, airports, train and bus terminals. Other popular destinations were clothing and shoe stores and health care, which includes dentistry and nursing homes.
In the three states, about a million more people went to restaurants than the weekend before and about 70,000 more people went to entertainment venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys or sporting goods operations.
Around 90,000 more people went to nail salons, hair salons and barber shops. Many visits were often different experiences than they were before the coronavirus pandemic. At one nail salon in Georgia, women wore masks and the shop would only let three customers in at a time. At one hair salon in Atlanta, customers signed waivers and had their temperatures taken.
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