It feels like March all over again. It’s been cold and windy, the days are short, and my inbox is full of emails from companies assuring me that they are here for me in the tough times ahead. Specifically, as rumors circulate that people have started “panic buying” again, I’ve been getting emails from our bakery and veg box supplier and supermarket telling me that there’s no need to worry, food is plentiful and toilet paper is abundant. Presumably I will not have to desperately scour our tiny local shop for fresh vegetables anytime soon.
We may or may not be headed for another lockdown, locally if not nationally. It certainly seemed that way last week, anyway, when new rules for gatherings and restaurant curfews were introduced as the COVID numbers went up and up and up. With the relentless bad weather and bad news, I felt a real sense of doom, and of déjà vu. I started to get antsy about making sure we had grocery deliveries lined up for the coming weeks. I also got the urge to buy household things we don’t really need, just to have something new to look at in the months to come: different sheets, different towels, fresh houseplants, fancy cocktail glasses, anything to make it feel like we’re not here, the same place we’ve been for the past six months, the same place we may well be for the six months to come.
I believe this is the longest stretch of time I’ve spent in Brighton since we moved here. Even when I didn’t have my passport for seven(!) endless months back in 2006/7 when I applied for permanent UK residence, I still managed to squeeze in two trips to Edinburgh. But now I haven’t been farther than 3 miles from our house since March 9th, when I went up to London for the day. And I’m struggling with this six-month mark and going through many of the same emotions I felt in the early days, when I wondered how everything was going to pan out and whether we’d make it through.
One notable difference between then and now is that my overriding feeling back in March was fear, and my overriding feeling now is resignation. The fear is still there, of course, but it’s somewhat tempered by the knowledge we’ve gained about the virus in the intervening months. Understanding more about modes of transmission and viral loads, etc., has made navigating the world marginally less terrifying. In the early weeks of This Whole Thing, everything seemed like a potentially deadly threat. The real threats are somewhat clearer now, so I feel better able to manage them. And that feeling of control (as illusory as it may be, to some extent) makes a world of difference. But obviously I can’t control the weather or the behavior of other people—two things that are likely to cause the number of infections to drag on and intensify in the months to come—and that’s where the resignation comes in.
But I’m trying to move past resignation to something more like peaceful acceptance. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it. Who knows, maybe some new towels and fancy cocktail glasses really will help? Only one way to find out…