At the time of starting this post, I’m in Week 4, Day 3 of Lockdown 2.
We’re well, in good health overall, and the full bite of cabin fever hasn’t set in and festered because we’re only in Week 4, Day 3 of Lockdown 2. We’re pottering along just fine. And I know it’s largely because there’s a confluence of privileges working in our favour — things like our education, location, white-collar jobs in fairly inelastic industries that allow us to work from home, and nifty things like easy access to technology and food.
It feels churlish to complain about anything. This isn’t meant to be a list of complaints. I just miss some things, and I also appreciate some other things about being locked in with my family.
I also realise that four weeks is NOTHING compared to 224 collective days in lockdown and counting (thinking of you there, people in Victoria.) These are early days and even thinking about this post feels like I’m holding up a papercut to an amputee.
1. Badly boxing immovable things and other fierce women
Badly boxing immovable things and other fierce women
Long story short, I’ve been going to boxing classes recreationally since late last year. And I’ve been having a ball.
To be clear, I don’t punch people in the face unless I’m not paying attention (that has happened), and I actually learn proper technique and footwork, which is a huge brain impost after work but such a fabulous way of blinding out the worries of the day so I can focus, laser-sharp, on coordinating arms and legs. Plus there’s a part of the hour where we all go to the bags and Just Let Rip. That’s a deep cleanse all on its own.
I’ve been looking around for something low impact yet high cardio but this has a real social element to it too. It has the added plus of not sucking on my bank account like a vampiric gym membership. *stare beadily at Fernwood*
I also realise that Jack Handey wasn’t actually kidding when he said,
To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there’s no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.
Lockdown has meant I haven’t boxed in four weeks. I try home yoga now and then but it’s just not the same — particularly when I’m straining at a tiny screen in mid-contortion before realising I’ve crossed the wrong leg and raised the wrong arm and worked the wrong muscle.
I should really move my workout to the living room.
I’m too embarrassed to move my workout to the living room.
2. Life-ing with people over food and drink
Sitting down in a nice cafe
I have a lot of random coffees with Tony now, which is a huge plus. But maybe I’ll cover that in another post.
Nothing quite informs you about your own creaturely habits until you can’t do them anymore. I’ve always known I’m a social butterfly, but Lockdown really drives home the point that most of my socialising is done over coffees and meals.
I miss doing walk-and-talk meetings while hunting for coffee. The lunch pie-run with colleagues. The let’s-make-the-most-of-2-for-1 coupon lunch run — also with colleagues.
I miss having coffees with friends around the traps near my home. Greeting wait staff by name. Getting called ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Luv’ right back. I miss the downloading. The uploading. Traversing the shallows and the deeps. The sitting down in a crowded room to have a private moment with a friend. The knitting together of lives with unforced affection over lemon meringue tarts.
It’s not just with colleagues and friends — I miss winding down mid-week from a long work day with two of my favourite people. Treating them to overpriced kiddie milkshakes and cupcakes and toasted banana bread. Watching sports screening silently on pub tellies and picking a team. Taking a breath together to debrief our day.
You can take the girl out of Singapore, but you can’t take Singapore out of the girl.
Window shopping, for the unfamiliar, is the second national pastime of my country of origin. The first is hunting down great food and then queueing for it.
When I found my mother’s diary — she’d write a single line about the highlight of her day in an office-style diary — there were many mentions of window shopping until stupid o’clock at night. She schlepped me everywhere. I was, like, 2-3 years old. Didn’t matter.
Some of my childhood memories include napping in my mother’s lap with her maroon leather handbag as my makeshift pillow. If the lipstick holder jutted into my head, that wasn’t a great nap. The bus ride on the 55 or 64 would take about 15 minutes into the centre of Orchard Road. If I was real tired at the end of the night, we’d take a cab home from the Galeries Lafayette taxi stand.
I love window shopping. I love doing it alone, I love doing it with friends, and I love doing it with Arddun. Usually I come back with more than just windows. 😏 But on Saturdays after dance classes, especially, it’s become a thing where we go out for lunch with Arddun and her bestie and her bestie’s mum. And when they can’t make it, Arddun and I go anyway. We’d end up in Civic having overpriced roti prata and then digest our lunch over window shopping. I like to think that if my mum were alive, she’d be there with us.
Shops are currently closed, even Kmart and Big W. I really, really feel for retail. I pray they survive. Like seriously, I pray.
4. Seeing people’s faces
Seeing people’s faces
My friends in Asia and America are constantly gobsmacked and offended that Australians don’t mask up. It’s a very hairy subject that Australians don’t often bring up because I think we secretly know we look like wankers or — God forbid — Texans for not doing it, but I privately suspect the spread of Delta, in NSW especially, could have been mitigated by the norm of mask-wearing before Delta touched us all.
One day, if I feel like a glutton for punishment, I’ll wax lyrical about my observations of Eastern sensibilities about collectivism and Western sensibilities about freedom, and the pervading myth of the Individual. And then come to the conclusion that one size really doesn’t fit all, not even within a single country. And hey look at that, maybe I don’t have to write that post after all.
All this to say — we’re wearing masks in public now. And I miss seeing people’s faces. I didn’t realise how much smilier we were as a community in Canberra until we covered half our faces. I didn’t realise how much genial grinning I did to total strangers until I didn’t have to. It’s Week 4 and I think we’re finally relaxing a bit. The first week, some numpties — always men, unfortunately — were still wearing their masks underneath their noses so they didn’t look stressed, just silly. But in Week 2-3, especially when we hit 30-something that one day, eye contact seemed to stop. People were in and out of supermarkets on a mission. We were task oriented, transactional in our dealings, and collectively nervous we were already exposing ourselves.
It feels like in Week 4, now that we seem to be hovering around the 15-25 mark, that we’re breathing out a little bit. I see smilier eyes. I even invested in new eyeliner with wing tips, in the vague hope of finally learning how to use the damn thing without smudging. Ah, hidden double eyelids.
We’d been sheltered from the true horrors of the pandemic and still are, to a large extent. Australia has been slow with the vaccine roll out and I think that had a lot to do with complacency all round because we didn’t acutely feel an existential threat until more recently. It’s telling how vaccination rates are high in Victoria, NSW and ACT while WA is much further behind.
Australia is still sheltered from the real ravages of the pandemic in the way other countries are not. I’m not pooh-poohing how people here have been doing it tough, though. Many businesses are suffering, real people are suffering, and if the latter is already in a difficult position beforehand, lockdowns have a way of exacerbating horrid situations especially when it’s something like domestic violence. There is a high cost to holding our breath while we weather this long stink together.
Still. We’re not suffering the way some other countries are. We have a public healthcare system. We have a (grudgingly meted) welfare system. We live in a society that tries to look out for one another in silent and stunning ways.
For a year, the ACT had been COVID-free and gone back to normal. For a year, we’d gone back to shaking hands and kissing cheeks, to sharing meals and moving freely. For a year, while we watched other countries implode with this virus and then more recently, when NSW floundered with Delta, we suspected our turn will come. And it has. We’re suppressing its full effects, but there’s the inevitable loss of innocence now.
We always knew we were fallible. Susceptible. That we are not immune. Having all that confirmed still sucks, though. There’s a dawning sense of the yawning unknown and wondering if we can ever ‘go back to normal’ or if that’s childish thinking.
That’s innocence right there, a little bit broken.