How to Make Your Home an Essential Worker This Winter

As we face another COVID-19 lockdown, our sanity will depend on our cribs’ sanctity

Photo courtesy of Swizz Beatz

2020 is grinding to a halt and as the great Game of Thrones tagline goes: Winter is coming. In tow, instead of dragons and throne-obsessed Europeans, is a 10-month-old pandemic with no foreseeable end. This means most Americans more than likely will return to the lockdown that kept them quarantined throughout late Winter/Spring 2020. Nationwide anxiety has spiked; I can empathize. March to May was suffocating. Days blended together, blurring the distinction between a Wednesday and a Saturday. The rare ventures outside were mainly for weird jogs throughout my desolate neighborhood or Trader Joe’s trips (never have I been happier to buy turmeric and wine). No one desires a repeat of those days, but what we mustn’t do is allow a return to the spiraling and depression caused by cabin fever and isolation. That defense should start and then live at home.

Not everyone can escape to virus-absent beaches on the equator or acres of ranch land for Instagram-worthy social distancing. Most Americans will once again depend on their residence to be an office, movie theater, gym, spa, synagogue, and dance floor — all at once. Until these COVID numbers drop, it’s imperative that our living quarters be havens of happiness and custom accommodation.

Pour into your home a little more so that it can return the love. Create the most comfortable office or your own resort. Buy those silky down pillows you loved during your last hotel stay. Turn your guest bedroom into a yoga, cycling or pre-production studio. There’s no reason why you too can’t have pineapple water like at the Google offices. We are visual creatures that are affected by colors and design more than we’re collectively aware. Every morning, your eyes should open to whatever will spark a ray of sunshine within. Run towards the hues which speak best to you. Then buy those curtains or rugs or silly slippers. An even greater idea: Paint a wall or door. But before you move on any of the aforementioned, it’s imperative that you first secure lighting. Seasonal depression is real out here. The number of 2020 suicides that were induced by COVID’s quarantine is not discussed enough. For those not fortunate enough to receive significant natural light at home, I suggest light therapy lamps to soften those dreadful 4:30pm sunsets.

If an entire home makeover is unrealistic, try select “space lifts.” Dedicate the next 30 days to upgrading the feng shui in a favorite room or two. Art is a perfect pairing with new paint jobs. The right print or oil work can shift the energy of an entire section. Perhaps your activism rose in 2020 and a Cleon Peterson better reflects 2021 you than that framed Supreme box logo. Consider framing and hanging your favorite photos of your favorite people. The perfect Black & White print could be your daily DeLorean.

There is zero shame in turning your boudoir into a crimson love den or the fact that French opium dens inspired the design of your man cave. The priority is your health. Ain’t a single thing more important.

Music and literary libraries will be vital for weekly respite and mental escapes. Your crib’s audio system must be sufficient. Portable speakers are must-haves; they should stay charged so they can entertain you no matter which room you occupy. It’s simple: Keep the happy in your eyes and ears. That doesn’t mean you need to have Pharrell’s “Happy” (an utterly perfect song, by the way) or Taylor Swift’s essential playlist on repeat. Lean on the reads, tunes or films that speak to your personal nostalgia. The album could be A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders or Nirvana’s Nevermind. Talladega Nights or Love Jones work on any day or movie night. That favorite read could be Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Are Watching God. But if you need to be snatched somewhere new, come January, jump into Sadeqa Johnson’s page-turner Yellow Wife. It won’t last long in your hands.

Oh, and you know what would really illuminate a library shelf or study? A cocktail bar! We will certainly be drinking like a Kennedy this Winter. Might as well sip favorites in style. Use your downtime to learn your wines and grow more acquainted with your palette. Maison Marcel makes a velvety red. Rose’ lovers should try Lafete. As far as spirits, keep a mid-range bottle for leisure use (Zoom happy hour, Madmen lunch). These are your Jamesons, VS Hennessys, Cirocs and Don Julios. Accompany each mid bottle with a premium — Clase Azuls, Macallans, Johnny Walker Blues. Not only do the big boys provide bar swag, they’re within reach whenever moments which call for a toast arrive. Whether small or large, celebrations are key in 2021. They start now.

Food is extremely essential this Winter. Never should we forget that we are still at the mercy of a virus that thrives inside weakened bodies. What we consume at home over the next few months can literally determine whether exposure to COVID-19 leads to contraction. But food shouldn’t be viewed only as a power source and saving grace. It’s a love of all living things — the glow we hold while anticipating dinner plans and the oblivious “smize” that possesses our faces when holding a new menu. Reproduce that joy at home. In fact, being that the average healthy eating schedule requests a minimum of three meals a day, there’s potential for food to excite nearly every four hours of every winter day.

Start with your most beloved dishes and gauge how often they should be consumed. For example, my guilty loves are French Fries and Mac & Cheese (don’t you add salmon or lobster, Lucifer). As an admitted Mac addict, I never ever make it at home. My healthy favorites are coconut almond milk, broccoli and spinach. I consume these three nearly every day, while I may make a healthier version of seasoned fries about once a month — especially with my new air fryer (candidate for 2020 MVP, by the way). Experimentation and discovery are easy facilitations for upping mealtime fun. I encourage all to try preparing your favorite foods in vegan form. Eat your favorite greens every evening if you desire. One week, give the carcinogenic cuisine a break and take a stab at a juicy cauliflower steak. Homemade Beyond burgers will certainly love your insides more than anything at Shake Shack. I have a friend who makes an incredible vegan oxtail with a symphony of blended onions, peppers, grains and rice paper. Rice paper!

This just may be the year you finally get a water cooler in the kitchen or a punching bag in the garage. There is zero shame in turning your boudoir into a crimson love den or the fact that French opium dens inspired the design of your man cave. The priority is your health. Ain’t a single thing more important. So for the foreseeable few months, remember your ideal and be a little selfish. If you don’t own it, purchase. If you already have it, renovate. Best would be to create it. All for the purpose of you living better at home. So we all can keep living.

Bonsu Thompson is a writer, producer, Brooklynite and 2019 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow.

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