Jeremy managed to book an appointment for his first COVID jab this week, to great fanfare. We speculated that, at the rate things were going, I might be getting my first jab just a couple of weeks after him, meaning I could potentially be fully vaccinated by my birthday.
I didn’t realize how much this speculation had become rooted as a reality in mind until the next morning, when I saw that all vaccinations for under-50s are now being delayed here until May due to vaccine supply problems—and I just wanted to cry. Even if I were to get a jab on May 1st, assuming they’re still leaving 12-week intervals between jabs here, I won’t be fully vaccinated until August at the earliest. It’s just a matter of a few more weeks, really, but as we sit here in mid-March, it seems like an eternity.
I saw the news as I was getting ready to leave the house—and when I say “leave the house,” I mean properly leave the house, wearing nice shoes and makeup and everything. My exciting destination was (drumroll, please) the Sussex Audiology Centre where (drumroll for TMI, please) my totally blocked right ear was vacuumed out, delivering unto me the sense of hearing I had been lacking for a good week. I have, apparently, small ear canals, and every few years at least one of them gets so clogged up that it needs a professional cleaning. Gross, I know, but the delight and relief I feel when the ear is cleared and the audible world comes rushing in again is intense. That said, I set up a new computer this week, and it’s only now that I realize just how CLICKY the keyboard is. I’m not complaining—I’m honestly happy to be able to hear anything at all again. But still. CLICKETY CLICKETY CLICK.
I walked to the audiology center and back, a two-mile stroll in each direction through the largely deserted streets of central-ish Brighton. We’re on the brink of starting to open up again here, but I felt deeply melancholy passing by all the closed shops with their dusty window displays, the restaurants with chairs stacked on all the tables, and the many empty units with “for rent” or “for sale” signs outside. Cafés are currently the only centers of activity in this ghost town, and I peered eagerly into every single one I passed. I wanted to step into each and buy something just for the novelty of it.
We went for a walk with our friend Richard on Friday, up to the racecourse and beyond, through the little dells and across green fields, with skylarks twittering above us and other people’s happy dogs bounding around us (no sheep, though—they’ve moved on to different fields). It was gloriously sunny, a proper herald of spring, and the sea sparkled so brightly it was hard to look at. We chatted about life during lockdown, and vaccinations, and music, and food, and as we started to head back home, Richard said he was having a hard time convincing himself that we weren’t on our way to a beer garden. Jeremy and I both kind of groaned in appreciation, because yes, that is exactly what we would otherwise do on a sunny, just-warm-enough Friday afternoon after a long week of work and an invigorating walk.
There is, as of yet, no beer garden to walk to, but it won’t be long. I’ve been getting the emails again, the reopening emails, the “book now” emails, the “we have exciting things planned” emails, and this time I’m actually excited, too. I am also wary. The infection numbers have shot up in Europe and they’re edging up here, too. A bit deal is being made of the claim that “half of England is now vaccinated,” but that’s totally misleading statement. Half of England has gotten their first dose of vaccine (26 million), but only a fraction have gotten their second dose and are now fully vaccinated (2 million). I want all of this to be over as much as everyone else, but I’m really trying to keep my hopes and expectations in check.
As much as anything, though, I’m just excited about better weather and the opportunity to move some of our life outdoors. It’s been a long winter, and it’s only as the weight of it begins to lift that I realize just how heavy it was in the first place. These walls have kept us warm and safe for months, but I’m ready to start cautiously moving beyond them. I now wake up in the morning to light streaming through the window and birds busily chirping outside. Soon the clocks will change and the evenings will stretch, the days will be warmer and longer and more full of possibility, and the world will feel a little bigger again. I can’t wait.