Moments in between by Shaelyn Stout

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a note from shaelyn

For the past two years I’ve lived 3,500 miles away from any home I’ve ever known. That is not to say I haven’t missed Philadelphia. Though I often question what I truly miss; is it the place, the people, the feeling? Prior to the pandemic, I could ignore my longing for home with an array of distractions, from nights out with friends to weekends spent at the university library. But in March of 2020, when the world was told to “stay at home”, I was forced to look inward, to explore my own understandings of home and how this year might impact them. So what is home to a woman raised in greater Philadelphia who now lives across the Atlantic Ocean? What is home to the person who can’t visit family over the holidays due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions? What is home to a flatshare in north London made up of four young adults who’ve just moved in together? Is home a person or people? Fellow expats you’ve met along the way or old friends you haven’t seen in years? Perhaps home is a distant memory or constant feeling. Don’t they also say home is where the heart is? What exactly does that mean? These are the questions I hoped to answer through Moments In Between.

This book is split into two parts: ‘the space and time’ and ‘the people and places’. Part one provides context and sets the scene for my and my flatmates’ COVID-19 experience. Images representative of pandemicera restrictions lead to photographs taken in our cramped flat and offer a visual journey of what daily life became, from new work spaces to the comfort foods that kept us sane. Once the scene is set, part two opens with introductions to my flatmates Aleesha, Sophie and Jack. I note their nationalities to emphasise distance from the places each grew up. This part is focused on how we spent lockdown, how we bonded and how we became family through it all. Through COVID-19, home quickly became the moments of comfort, intimacy and friendship that I experienced during a time in which I thought nothing significant could ever happen. I call these moments the ‘moments in between’ and I maintain that they taught us patience, love, kindness and what home truly could be. I am confident that Moments In Between will teach you the same, and I am proud to share my journey home in hopes that you one day find your own. It helps to look within, to love unconditionally and to enjoy each moment as it passes. I promise it’s not all cold pints and fancy accommodation here in London—it’s also missing your family and friends, learning to cope with a pandemic, finding peace in solitude and all the tears and cheers in between. Wishing you all the love.