8 April 2020

From quarantine, with love

It feels weird returning to this blog at a time like this, especially when you consider it was my place to document restaurants and events for so long. The fact of the matter is that as my following remained static, my invites from PRs dried up, and I wasn't sure what I had to contribute on here anymore.

But in the absence of my journal (left in my flat, 50 miles away), I thought this would be the best place to write it all out and, I don't know, maybe feel a little lighter after I did.

At a time when time seems endless, I'm finding that I have so much of it to fill (other than my day job, which I'm lucky to still be in), but what makes me happiest is being with or talking with those I care about. I've never spent so much time in touch with my family and friends - messaging, FaceTiming, sending and receiving voice notes - and it's made me question how I spent my time before, pre-COVID.

The pandemic is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime chance to be utterly selfish. Especially if you've been furloughed as a single person with no dependants, you have the small comfort of 80% of your wage but 100% of your time to spend as you want. You could read the pile of books you've always been too busy to get around to; learn a new language; perfect a tricky dish; work your way through every crime documentary of Netflix; or do absolutely nothing (aren't you so pleased the emails telling you how to be so productive during the coronavirus have finally stopped?). Your living space is your oyster.  

But it's also a time to show kindness and compassion to others. To go out of your way to donate to that cause you've followed for a little while; to support small, local businesses in the hope they'll still be around afterwards; to send that card to someone to show you're thinking of them. The saying 'Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always', has never been so apt - except, of course, for the meeting part.

For some, the pandemic is busy. Frontline NHS staff are working flat out to save lives and witness far too many deaths, only to do it all again the following day. Families and households have expanded as people moved in or returned home to weather the storm together. It can be hectic and trying and compromise. Arguments over the bathroom and where's the bowl and turn the TV down. It can be exhausting and draining.

But for some, the pandemic is quiet. Maybe even lonely. The key workers sitting in the office alone. The households where most moved away, but one person stayed, and ones where people didn't return. They've found themselves in involuntary solitude, and they're not sure what to do with the heavy silence. That brings its own challenges, too. So many people are being forced to sit with themselves and that can be incredibly uncomfortable.

We're all in this together, one way or another, but everyone is living their new normal differently - I for one don't know how I feel about it all. 

By day I'm busy, but my days feel longer sat at a makeshift desk. Quarantine has seen me move twice (don't worry, I won't be moving from where I am now until restrictions are lifted) so I've experienced and am still experiencing a change to routine, but also a change to my surroundings. I can't settle and I'm not sure I want to. 

In the evening, I enjoy not feeling like I have to have plans. Stepping away from the relentlessness of London life. In some ways I'm relived at the respite. But I miss my freedom.

It breaks my heart that so many can't be with the people they love during such a challenging time. Whether you're busy or quiet or overcrowded or have your space, it's impossible to be truly happy without sharing your life with those closest to you. I can't wait to get out and make memories with those I'm only able to connect with on a screen - although goodness knows I'm grateful for that. 

And it's all just so... weird, right? Not knowing how long this will last, and how long the effects of it will last. 

When it ends, and it will end, eventually, I'll be coming out of it with an understanding that love is time, and gestures, and something that can't be taken for granted. And that investing in loungewear is a worthy investment.

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