Ages ago (literally ages) Bill Fonda challenged me to write a blog post about what my first weekend after lockdown would look like. The concept has been passed from blogger to blogger with some really awesome responses, which you can read here.
I was, and still am, in love with this idea, but over many months I tried to sit down maybe half a dozen times to write about my dream of a post-lockdown life, and I just couldn’t. I was completely uninspired to write about some utopic weekend when I knew that, in reality, there is no “end” of lockdown. By now, measures are slowly lifting in the UK, I’ve been to the pub, gone back to work (quite literally drowning in PPE) and even gone to a shop for non-essentials (frivolous, I know). Still, the new normal is very new and not very normal.
I think I imagined that weekend would involve us driving up to see my mum’s family. We’d all converge on one house, maybe my auntie’s. My family is crazy, loud, loving and hilarious and I can’t wait to get us all in one place again. We’d poke fun at each other, maybe reminisce at old photos and at some point my cousin would sit down with his guitar and we’d all sing along. The last time I saw most of them properly was at Christmas, and I was too ill to enjoy it properly. If only I’d known what was coming!
After that I thought I’d see my old school friends. The first half of lockdown was so weird, knowing that they were all home from uni but I couldn’t see them. Although most of us have seen each other now, it’s not quite the same when we’re all shouting across a socially-distanced circle that increases in size every time someone new arrives. In the imaginary normal, we’ll all meet up (in Wetherspoons, sorry) and talk about everything from memes to the meaning of life. They’d share and compare uni anecdotes and I’d bore them by going on and on about my short stint of travelling.
Technically, there’s not much stopping me from doing all that. But crucially, I’d hug them all tight, something I haven’t been able to do for months and perhaps won’t for a long while yet.
So that’s how I imagined things to be. But after feeling in limbo for so many months, reality hit me hard. I was still making distant summer plans in May, not realising that Spring had completely passed me by. When lockdown measures relaxed it took me a while to adjust to the fact that I could in fact start going out again. I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago, and we drove to our favourite campsite in Rutland to meet up with some old friends. We had dinner in the pub that night, kayaked on the water and saw an amazing shooting star, and I could almost believe things were back to normal. We donned our masks to buy lunch on the Friday, the first day they were required in shops, and compared pattern and fit like some kind of a novelty. Mum and I took the back roads home, passing through quaint Yorkshire villages. We stopped for a coffee in Kirkburton, and the barista apologised that she’d just taken off her gloves as she wasn’t expecting any more customers. The new normal. (We did get our coffee, this is a happy story not a nightmare).
There are lots of sets of steps in my town, from the waterside to the town centre. The most normal thing I’ve done so far is go back to training on them – running and jumping up them and such. Afterwards we all go to the café by the river for greasy bacon sandwiches. We have to sit outside now but interestingly they have more seating outside than they ever had indoors – and we’re lucky to live in such a beautiful place.
Like most people, I’ve been desperate for a haircut for months now. But I’m also incredibly lazy which was the only thing stopping me from buying some scissors and having a go myself. I was bursting with excitement as I donned my mask and filled in my contact details, only to be reminded that actually, there are some things I don’t miss about pre-covid life, and having my hair cut is one of them. I don’t know what happens to me the moment I sit in that chair but I can never seem to convey exactly what I want doing. This time I just couldn’t convince the hairdresser how much shorter I really did want my hair, and spent an hour alternating between kicking myself for not being more stubborn and resenting her for just not getting it. My hair sure looks a lot better but only as short as it was before lockdown, when I was overdue a trim anyway. Not the sensational restyle I was after.
My dad works away from home during the week so he has a flat in Portishead. With a few days off work, I thought it would be fun (and long overdue) to stay with him for a while, so I did just that. I’m writing this on the balcony overlooking the Severn estuary in blazing heat. Between the picturesque marina and the weather I could really be abroad somewhere. Yesterday I walked about half an hour to Battery Point and read for a while in the sun before meandering back; it’s a far cry from the early days, when I was nervous to even fill my car on my own for fear of standing in the wrong place at the petrol station. As I adjust to the new normal it becomes easier to deal with and the differences between life now and before aren’t always that obvious.