Posted by: bluesyemre | November 4, 2020

How to Be at Home (2020)

Ten years after Tanya Davis wrote the gorgeous poem, How to Be Alone, she’s done it again with a poignant poem for these times, How to Be at Home…and the two of us found ourselves collaborating again (scroll down to read the words to the poem).

This animation was created in my home studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while in social isolation through the spring and summer of 2020.

How to Be at Home is one of thirty films made through, The Curve, a National Film Board of Canada series of films created within (and many about) our pandemical times. You can see more of these wonderful and affecting films, and the full list of credits for this one, if you visit this link…


A National Film Board of Canada Production
Poem written by Tanya Davis
Directed, animated and edited by Andrea Dorfman
Produced by Annette Clarke
Original music by Tanya Davis and Daniel Ledwell
Sound designed by Sacha Ratcliffe

How to be at Home
Tanya Davis 2020

If you are, at first, really fucking anxious, just wait. It’ll get worse, and then you’ll get the hang of it. Maybe.

Start with the reasonable feelings – discomfort, lack of focus, the sadness of alone
you can try to do yoga
you can shut off the radio when it gets to you
you can message your family or your friends or your colleagues, you’re not supposed to leave your home anyway, so it’s safe for you

There’s also the gym
you can’t go there but you could pretend to
you could bendy by yourself in your bedroom

And there’s public transportation
probably best to avoid it
but there’s prayer and meditation, yes always
employ it
if you have pains in your chest ‘cause your anxiety won’t rest
take a moment, take a breath

Start simple
things you can handle based on your interests
your issues and your triggers
and your inner logistics
I miss lunch counters so much I’ve been eating [pickles and] toasted sandwiches while hanging unabashedly with my phone

When you are tired, again of still being alone
make yourself a dinner
but don’t invite anybody over
put something green in it, or maybe orange
chips are fine sometimes but they won’t keep you charged
feed your heart
if people are your nourishment, I get you
feel the feelings that undo you while you have to keep apart

Watch a movie, in the dark
and pretend someone is with you
watch all of the credits
because you have time, and not much else to do
or watch all of the credits to remember
how many people come together
just to tell a story
just to make a picture move

And then, set yourself up dancing
like it’s a club where everyone knows you
and they’re all gonna hold you
all night long
they’re gonna dance around you and with you and on their own
it’s your favourite song
with the hardest bass and the cathartic drums
your heart pumps along/hard, you belong
you put your hands up to feel it

With the come down comes the weeping
those downcast eyes and feelings
the truth is you can’t go dancing, not right now
not at any club or party in any town

The heartbreak of this astounds you
it joins old aches way down in you
you can visit them, but please don’t stay there

Go outside if you’re able, breathe the air
there are trees for hugging
don’t be embarrassed
it’s your friend, it’s your mother, it’s your new crush
lay your cheek against the bark, it’s a living thing to touch

Sadly, leave all benches empty
appreciate the kindness in the distance of strangers
as you pine for company and wave at your neighbours
savour the depths of your conversations
the layers uncovered
in this strange space and time

Society is afraid of change
and no one wants to die
not now, from a tiny virus
not later from the world on fire

But death is a truth we all hate to know
we all get to live, and then we all have to go

In the meantime, we’re surrounded, we’re alone
each a thread woven in the fabric, unravelling in moments though
each a solo entity spinning on its axis, forgetting that the galaxy includes us all

Herein our fall
from grace from each other from god whatever, doesn’t matter
the disaster is that we believe we’re separate
we’re not

As evidenced by viruses taking down societies
as proven by the loneliness inherent in no gatherings
as palpable as the vacancy in the space of one person hugging

If this disruption undoes you
if the absence of people unravels you
if touch was the tether that held you together
and now that it’s severed you’re fragile too
lean into loneliness and know you’re not alone in it
lean into loneliness like it is holding you
like it is a generous representative of a glaring truth
oh, we are connected
we forget this, yet we always knew.

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