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These Four Walls

from 2020101 (2021) by Shannon Curtis



In our story collection, we heard from one group of people who had a very particular experience of 2020: parents, who had a lot to say about how this past year uniquely shaped the experience of family life.

From the parents of young kids who were suddenly thrust into …
— trying to manage their work-from-home jobs as well as their kids’ online schooling
— or scrambling for child care while they had to show up for their in-person essential work
— or just never getting a break from the constant togetherness;

to parents of older kids who mourned with them the losses of milestone experiences of transitioning into adulthood ...
— no college tours
— no graduation ceremonies from high school or college
— no first jobs.

Every family, in some way, experienced a total upheaval of what they had expected the year to look like, and bore hardships they wouldn’t have known how to foresee or plan for before 2020.

Parents shared with us about how hard it was for them to see their kids experience social isolation, and to watch them long for activities like going to school, playing sports, and having birthday parties.

And also … they shared with us about how resilient their kids were.
How they figured out how to adapt to the new normal, even when it was a struggle to do so.
How they faced the challenges of the time and embraced the unusual opportunities this strange time offered.
We heard from a lot of very proud parents of kids who grew ever more into awesome young humans this last year, despite — and in some cases because of — the obstacles and trials of living through a pandemic.

And we also heard about the increased frequency of dinners around the kitchen table together.
And movie nights.
And board games.
And lots of deep conversation, and lots of laughter.

There was a lot about this time that will unequivocally shape the adults that these kids are becoming. And so much that will indelibly mold the character of the families who went through this fire together.

How do you parent a child through a circumstance with which you don’t have any personal experience? I mean, not only was the coronavirus itself novel to the human population, the experience of a global pandemic was a novel one for every person on the planet as well. Parents shared with us what a unique opportunity it was for them to be able to teach and model — in real time — good mental health practices for their kids, as everyone in the house was experiencing the same uncertainty, discomfort, change, sadness, and overload at the same time.

From quotes like,

“Trust me, there’s plenty of tension, and days when I can’t wait to get the hell out of the house,” to
“I wouldn’t trade the time we’ve had together this past year for anything,” to
“My son was my greatest source of hardship and my greatest source of joy this last year,”

… it’s clear that for parents and kids, 2020 was a year of learning how to live with often conflicting truths about the people we live with and love.

When everything that matters most to you in life is suddenly bottled up together under one roof, it can seem sometimes as though the bubbling effervescence of life contained in that space might threaten to blow that roof right off. And, also ... it can feel like the very crystallized essence of a unique, unforgettable, and precious time.


I can see that you’re sad
Stuck inside and detached
Wish that I had good advice to give
Truth is we’re all winging this

Watching as a year goes
Missing all the milestones
I’d replace all you have lost, but god
For the young, when time is gone it’s gone
The time is gone

Here we are, together in these four walls
None of this is going how it’s supposed to
And I don’t have a precedent to point to
Here we are, making the best of it all
Suddenly the world reduced in size
But everything that matters fits inside
These four walls

Barely room for moving
Here under one roof with
All our big feelings exposed and no
Other place for them to go

Laughter in the kitchen
Riding out the whirlwind
We’re a ship sailing uncharted seas
Treasure from this trek is ours to keep
What we found in the deep
Is ours to keep

Here we are, together in these four walls
You’re my everything, but this is tough when
We don’t get a break, and none is coming
Here we are, making the best of it all
We won’t forget this strange and sacred time
When everything that matters fit inside
These four walls
These four walls

Here we are, together in these four walls
This isn’t how we planned it
We have everything that matters
Here we are, making the best of it all
This isn’t how we planned it
We have everything that matters
In these four walls


from 2020101 (2021), track released March 28, 2021
written and performed by Shannon Curtis

produced, mixed, and mastered by Jamie Hill
at Department of Energy Management, Tacoma

co-produced, programmed and recorded by Shannon
additional programming and recording by Jamie


all rights reserved



Shannon Curtis Tacoma, Washington

Shannon Curtis is an artist who works as a songwriter, storyteller, and author. Shannon lives in Tacoma, WA and makes artpop music with her husband, producer / mixer Jamie Hill (deptofenergymgmt.com/work).

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