The last 7 days marked a sharp change in daily (or weekend) life. If you live in the UK, you are now allowed to meet one other family or gather a group of 6 outdoors. Whilst this morning’s snow was a hit to what we all hoped was Easter Spring weather, this still meant something (especially if you have an outside heater and a borrowed gazebo). It means you can re-engage with friends. Host lunches. Meet someone in the park. Make plans. Fill weekends. The end of lockdown is near. Freedom is overdue. Exciting, and oh so daunting.
Time is up
If you, like me, have used this time to reconnect with yourself, you may even have enjoyed some of it. And whilst engaging with others is still something I am absolutely keen to do, I am weary of whether I will prioritize myself along the way. I love my chance to have lunch with another family, meet a friend in the park, take my children to a playdate. Today, I could even host 4 of Little Girl’s C little friends to celebrate her birthday in the garden. That was grand!
However, I don’t miss large group dinners, continuous children parties and after-school activities. And small talk. I don’t miss having weekends booked out and get to Sunday night without a single moment for my mind to rest. Call me anti-social. But during this time I narrowed my top choices on how I enjoy spending my time.
Freedom to Stay
I hear you, the end of lockdown is a good thing. It means this devastating illness is soon to be behind us. That we are turning the curve on this wave, one that we hope will be the last. In the UK, chances look good. And I am no doubt happy about the impact of yet another victory for science and humanity. And hey, the best part is that we can all still choose to stay home, but don’t have to if we don’t want to. After all, freedom is what we all value. But will we choose to? Are we really free?
End of Lockdown Anxiety
Back in the Summer, the feeling was somewhat similar. At the time, I felt uneasy about the illness itself, the memories were still too fresh in my mind. And whilst I don’t want to catch it still, I can feel the smell of a vaccine around the corner. I also felt uneasy about how fast some things re-opened and how fast we all got back to a normal that was still far from normal (or permanent). Finally, I was in Portugal at the time, and my closeness to family meant I was more nervous about carrying this virus to them. It was an anxious time.
This time around, I feel it to be more permanent. Life is meant to return to normal and we really do want it to. We want to enjoy London the way we did in the past – visit places, meet friends, do “stuff”.
My heart warmed up as I thought of the concert me and Hubby B went to in the Royal Albert Hall in October 2019 (Carmina Burana). A lifetime ago. How Little Girl C and I went to watch Matilda together and went back to Piccadilly in a rickshaw. Or how I went to a Bryan Adams concert with a friend. And how we ended up clubbing after a surprise birthday dinner and I danced the night away. Or simply how we gathered in a friend’s house for a birthday party just 2 weeks before Covid hit and ended in a warm karaoke through the night. I miss all those things. Memories.
Freedom in disguise
As freedom is around the corner, I wonder if I will remain free though. How much do we get to choose in today’s day and age? Yes, there will be so many things I will want to do! But there will also be so many things I am expected to do. How do you draw a line?
You can’t miss the birthday party as your child is the one left out. And certainly you can’t miss the large birthday dinner, or your friend may think you don’t like them anymore or you can’t be bothered to show. You can’t miss the work drinks, we all need to reconnect after spending a virtual year apart! And I am just getting started on this list. Generally,. I am ok to do any of these in isolation, but as we know, the eagerness is great in getting everyone back together. And I find that my energy gets drained easily these days, I take longer to recover, I need more space than ever before. And whilst I know I am on the mend, part of it will always be that way.
So yes, whilst freedom is coming, I do feel slightly less free. I am more acutely aware of my fear of disappointing others and my need to live up to (God knows who) expectations. So until I get that part sorted, freedom won’t set me free.