The Great Indoors
Championing the Experience of Extreme At-Homing
- Text: SSENSE
- Photography: Rebecca Storm
Before Wi-Fi, before smartphones, before meme-culture—before technology erased the need to actually be anywhere physically—was there ever a subculture built entirely around staying in and doing nothing by yourself? God is dead, rock-and-roll is dead, punk is dead—they’ve all been replaced by Netflix and chill. Today’s cool kids seem to be dedicated to disconnecting, staying in and streaming reality TV, posting selfies from bed, sharing memes about depression and anxiety. Staying home has become a subculture of its own, a subculture of self-assured solitude. Skate-kids, club-kids, punks, metal-heads—has everyone given up on a “real world” assertion of the self and resigned to delight in the wonder of the great indoors? And why not? Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you aren’t exploring. An apartment is a vast terrain filled with potentials for discovery. It’s a big world out there, and a lot of it you can experience from the comfort of your own home.
When Dr. John C. Lily invented the first Sensory Deprivation Tank in 1954, he was in search of transcendental relaxation. Unless SDTs become household items, taking a bath will be the closest, and most affordable activity to achieve this hyper chilled out state. Bathing switches us from our dominant Sympathetic nervous system to the Parasympathetic nervous system, a.k.a. our “rest and digest” mode. Floating in water achieves a certain physical homeostasis, allowing the mind to unlock its deepest euphoric systems. Dr. Lily believed that in the province of the mind there are no limits, so consider lighting some candles, stocking up on bubble bath and Epsom salt, and transforming your tub into your own pseudo-SDT. Think of your bath time as floatation therapy or a form of structured self-care.
Gone are the days of delayed gratification, when entertainment was absorbed in weekly episodic trickles. No one will ever have to endure a between-season drought of on-screen distraction again. The modern stream is ever-flowing and ever-renewing, an IV of pure enjoyment you can hook up to with the single click of a bookmarked URL. An utterly depthless body of archived cultural texts awaits—fail compilations, documentaries, interviews with icons long dead, Spanish soap operas. Tune into the stream and let a transcendent state descend as you bask in the low gurgle of a four-bar volume. Languidly losing interest, you might pick up your phone and dip your toes into an auxiliary tributary. The beauty of the stream is that it flows from many channels, and culminates in a continuous jet of satiating stimulus. There is so much to absorb—let the tranquilizing luminescence of the screen lull you into a state of total mindfulness.
The puff of a good goose down comforter folded just-so can feel a lot like a hug, but without the confusion of another body. Touch without context, what a dream. Wrapped in fleece sheets in the winter—a light, checkered cotton in summer—you are alone, finally, on a desert island of your own making. The three things you’ve brought with you are: a laptop for WorldStarHiphop videos, green tea Pocky sticks, and a Lelo. The necessities, really. Humans spend one third of their lives asleep, but lounging in the folds of bed island isn’t the same as sleeping—not actually. It’s a state of repose, of quiet wakefulness. A place to lie down when the world gives too much context for you to enjoy its touch.
Our wardrobes are collections of prosthetics, soft arsenals for articulating our personalities. Without regular pruning, they survive as reminders of our past selves, like a snake’s skin after it’s shed—if snakes used to shop at Hot Topic. The ruthless closet purge is all the rage, and for good reason: moving is enough of a hassle without extra garbage bags full of unwanted stuff that has sat unworn for years, and we’re allowed to leave bits of our past behind. It might even be healthy to. But it’s not the clean, cohesive closet that’s valuable so much as the journey towards it. A closet turned inside out and strewn across the bedroom floor is a sort of psychosartorial reckoning, a trip through ourselves into territories unfamiliar and even forgotten. Retrieving bits of ourselves left in storage, we can upcycle them into something new. And if that doesn’t work out, we at least get to chill atop our hillocks of junk like covetous dragons on their piles of gold.
In the only version of Point Break that's worth watching, unseasoned surfer Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves, gives in to the temptation of hitting the midnight waves with the locals—mostly at the behest of Patrick Swayze's shaggy, sun-tarnished character, Bodhi. "I gotta be fucking crazy," says Johnny, bobbing in the swell of the moonlit waves. "But are you crazy enough?" taunts Bodhi, peacocking in the dark froth of the surf. While the only surfing that takes place inside your apartment is of the couch or World Wide Web variety, the dialogue of will-and-won't is a classic response when it comes to staying in or going out—staying together or breaking up. Should I even bother leaving the house? Is it worth it? Do I really need to be in a relationship? If Mercury's in retrograde is it bad to break up now? I’ve got to stay home and chill—but will I really chill? Teetering on the precipice of an arbitrary choice that weighs heavier the longer you go without making it, doing anything can seem impossible. But to be fully made-up and accessorized with the unshakable burden of, "I'd rather stay home" is what 2017 is all about. When you are everything you need, sometimes the greatest sensation of loneliness occurs when you're among others—so why bother? Break up with your plans and get into yourself.
Midnight snacking is overrated. This is late night dining 2.0—a multi-course escapade through the chilled terrains of perishable wonders. Wrap yourself in fleece, take a seat, and release your inhibitions. Indulge your gustatory system in its entirety and alternate flavors frequently—if you are what you eat, you’re in a position to take advantage of the opportunity for transformation. Every condiment serves a purpose beyond its intent, and Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked is just a compartment away. Do good unto others and avoid roommate inventory, unless it’s unlabeled. Take cue from Lil Wayne’s episode of MTV Cribs and wash it all down with some Hpnotiq, straight from the bottle.
- Text: SSENSE
- Photography: Rebecca Storm
- Styling: Olivia Whittick
- Hair and Makeup: Laurie Deraps / Teamm Management
- Model: Ramona Hallemans / Another Species