Back to Reality (Day 419)

I’ve not posted anything about the pandemic since mid-March, when I marked a year of lockdown. Back then, I was suffering a bad case of the blues, and not doing well with continued confinement.

It’s now almost two months later. The case numbers and deaths are well down. Lockdown restrictions are easing. The vaccine programme is having an effect, even if I can’t book an appointment for myself within 20 miles of home. The tension of the last few months is fading.

I’ve been fortunate with much of the pandemic, but I found myself very withdrawn in the first part of the year. It’s taking time to get back into the flow of life. The last indoor party I went to was in March 2020. I’ve not eaten at a restaurant since October. I can’t remember the last film I saw in a cinema. Along with that, I’ve lost whole aspects of my social life. There are people who I’ve not been in touch with since this started. I’ve missed the small conversations I’d have when seeing people I knew at events; the chance meetings at parties. Gaps have opened up in my life.

(I recently saw my parents for the first time since the Christmas lockdown. They gave me a bag of goodies they’d planned to give me on Boxing Day. The vegan Christmas cake was now out of date).

The biggest change is being back in the office. While it’s a strange experience being in such an empty space, it’s good to have some variety in my life – even if we’re not supposed to talk to colleagues but via Webex video software.

A few weeks back, I had my first proper night out in almost a year. We were in a back garden, rather than a park or the beach. I took an Uber across town and drank cocktails by a firepit that hurled smoke in our faces. It wasn’t normal, not for April, but it felt good. I actually got to chat with a couple of people that I didn’t know well, and took a taxi home after one. That was good.

I don’t put it beyond Johnson’s government to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but I’m starting to feel hopeful that this has an ending. I’ve some friends who have been sheltering since this started who have finally set a date to be reunited with family. That date is months off, but it finally feels plausible.

There are lots of gaps in life right now, but the flip side to that is getting to do things again for the first time. Cinemas, theatre shows, festivals eventually. It’s slowly coming back.

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