It has been a long spring since the COVID-pandemic started to turn sharp in Hungary in the middle of March. While many families drowned in negative experiences during the period of the curfew restrictions, me and my family felt fortunate for our older relatives and ourselves remaining healthy and being able to keep our jobs. We managed to get over the damages and hardships caused by social distancing and now we are well-equipped to evaluate the ups and downs of the politics of isolation.
With our four children and my mother-in-law my wife and I undertook voluntary quarantine in our Budakeszi home from the 14th of March until the official reopening of kindergardens at the beginning of June. We almost kept complete isolation until the ease of the restrictions in June. However, I started photographing outside our home from the end of April. I also documented our forcibly changed life from the beginning of our quarantine. This had not been simple, as being a documentary photographer I was not used to being at home all the time.
The rate of four children for three adults might seem to be ideal in theory, in practice, however, we still had to face quite a lot of challenges. The children are very young and we thought of the already admired kindergartners as irreplaceble Self-quarantine Diary. On the other hand the two and a half months that we got to spend with the children day and night gave us unforgettable memories. Our relationships became fulfilled and our lives changed in quality because of the breakfasts spent together and the tasks done together. Fear of the unexpected, however, had also loomed into our lives while living the slow life of the quarantine. We thought of our lives to be flowing in a computable manner. We felt in control and planned ahead. The pandemic had shown that all of that was mere illusion and our lives could change from one minute to the other even here, in a quite peaceful corner of the world.
At the times of rebooting our normal lives we must think of the things that are ready to be changed and the challenges we would probably face in the future. The past weeks and months had been difficult but we tried to gain as much as possible from the unexpected situation. It made us reevaluate what is important, we got to know ourselves better and redefining value and family became necessary. The extraordinary made us shape our attitude and strenghtened our decisions. Albeit it was exhausting, it had brought our goals and our true selves closer. We had had our conflicts but it made us find new solutions and made us recognize truths that otherwise would have remained hidden. Although the situation could not be further from what we had thought to be ideal, we came through the hardships of isolation with strength.
It could seem to be comfortable and relaxing, the ten weeks spent in complete isolation had been very long. Not being able to contact the outside world was the complete opposite of harmony and peace. Problems that were present even if not visible surfaced and seemed to be intensified. We can consider ourselves to be part of the fortunate few who could make bonds stronger during the time of social distancing because our tensions could have been eased and our conflicts resolved successfully.
Antónia and Dávid are back in kindergarden and the twins got to take over the family house again. Granny moved home and everything seems to be back to the normal as we knew it before the COVID pandemic. In reality, however, we are probably at the very beginning of the full blown coronavirus-crisis and our future could not be further from being carved in stone. While enjoying the current restoration of life we are preparing ourselves for the second wave. Until then one thing is certain: life will never be the same as we knew it before the pandemic.
Simon Móricz-Sabján was born in Kiskunhalas, Hungary in 1980. He is an award-winning photojournalist and documentary photographer living in Budapest, Hungary. Apart from his job Simon works on personal projects as well, dedicating a lot of time to develop his personal material, working on photo essays for years in some cases. May it be a social issue or just everyday stories, his main focus is the human being and his surroundings.
Simon’s work has been recognized by many photography awards. He has won first prizes at the China International Press Photo Contest on two occasions, as well as multiple awards from Pictures of the Year International (POYi), NPPA Best of Photojournalism, Prix International de la Photographie, PDN, iPhone Photography Awards, ASPAawards and FCBarcelona Photo Award. Among other acknowledgments, he won prizes at Hungarian Press Photo competitions on 33 occasions, including two Grand Prizes of the Association of Hungarian Journalists and five Munkacsi Marton Awards for the best collections. Three times winner of József Pécsi scholarship (for talented young art photographers), four times winner of NKA scholarship; he won the Budapest Photography Scholarship in 2012, the Népszabadság Grand Prize in 2013, and the Hemzo Karoly Prize in 2015.