- Countries Visited: 5
- Travel Wishlist: More of Italy!
- Locked down in: Melbourne, Australia
“You know what else sucks? I’m an extrovert. Just like superman gets his powers from the sun, I get mine from being around people”
My constant thought for 2020 has been “Thank God for hobbies”.
Painting. Crocheting. Puzzles. Baking. Making pasta. Playing The Sims. Watching all the Star Wars for the first time. You name a time-waster, I picked it up again this year. I generally don’t like sitting in front of the TV for hours, so if I’m going to be stuck at home, I need to be doing something.
And boy, have we been stuck at home.
I don’t know the exact numbers – we all lost count back in September – but Melbourne, Victoria has been in some form of lockdown since March. Back in March, the whole of Australia was in lockdown. We all watched Tiger King. We all posted pictures of the puzzles we’d done or the banana bread we baked or the empty TP aisle in Woolies. You’d jump on House Party, and could chat with friends around the country, cos they were also at home, bored, looking for a distraction. I hosted trivia on Zoom for almost 60 people one night. There was a novelty about working down the hall from the room from where you sleep – or in some cases, IN the room where you sleep – and we all shared the stories.
Cut to October.
I wrote a post for Facebook on 9 October, 2020. This post was shared over a thousand times on Facebook, with over 1.3k reactions – mostly from people I do not know. I am glad I wrote it. I had been having these thoughts and conversations for the past few weeks, and needed an outlet. The response to the post was incredible – at the time, I thought a few friends would be interested and would maybe share some of my thoughts, but apparently I had captured a moment in quite a few people’s lives.
To Whom it may concern;
Yes – Melbourne is still in lockdown. You think you’re tired of hearing about it? We’ve been living it. We are more than tired – we are mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Every day is harder to get out of bed, because what’s the point? I eat breakfast, then I sit in the spare room at my computer for 7 hours, then we have dinner, watch TV and go to bed.
For awhile there, there were some novelties – people would send gifts and I would get to go downstairs and greet the postman! Each day our new case numbers would drop and the sun started coming out and we could see the light at the end of all this!
Now, the numbers are hanging around 11/12 – every now and then they drop to 5 or 6 and we let out a little “woohoo!” and then the next day it’s 12 again, and we sigh again. I have found my mood is a direct reflection on the day’s case numbers.
All the novelties have worn off. The projects I do continue are there to break up the TV watching. I do things to bring a smile to other people, like paint a portrait of their pet or host trivia via zoom. I make a cocktail every Saturday night because it’s the only thing that differentiates it from every other night. There are less gifts and messages from people outside Melbourne, and more from people within. We know what we are going through, we know how tough it is, and know how nice it feels to receive a little something from someone else to lift their spirits. The “we’re all in this together” only exists for those of us in this lockdown bubble. The rest of you have gone back to work or are taking yourself on weekend getaways or, you know, just like, going to the pub with a few friends.
You know what else sucks? I’m an extrovert. Just like superman gets his powers from the sun, I get mine from being around people. Last weekend, we left the house (!) for a picnic (!) and I got to see people and it was overwhelming. I’m usually a social butterfly, but I felt like an awkward caterpillar who came out of the cocoon too early. What do I do with my hands when I talk to people? How do I sit?! Sorry, I interrupted you, but that’s what you have to do on Zoom because there’s a bit of a lag, so actually you’re jumping in at the right time…
Look, this is not a pity post. This is not intended to induce eye-rolls or sighs from people outside of Melbourne. We just want to remind you – we are STILL IN THIS. And it fucking sucks. We are not going home for Christmas. We probably won’t be allowed into Perth until June next year. That is really starting to hit hard. It is actually so much harder now than it was when we first went into stage four restrictions back in July. YES, JULY. We are technically still in stage four restrictions, did you know that? We can’t go within 5km of our house. Can’t see more than 3 people from 1 other household outside our house. Most shops and restaurants and cafes and hairdressers are still closed.
Remember when you worked from home for 4 weeks? I am reaching MONTH EIGHT.
Be kinder to your Melbourne mates. I’m sure you are being kind, but everyone can always do better. If the majority of your mates are in Melbourne, maybe think twice about posting a photo of yourself at the beach? Or the pub? (God, I miss the pub.)
To my Melbourne friends, I’m not gonna say “hang in there” – cos we are. We have been. Let’s just keep doing our best and help each other through. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that if we feel like messaging someone just to let them know we’re thinking of them – we should do it.
But also, keep sending presents. That helps.
I added this caveat at the end, and I would just like to back it up here – I am very aware of my personal privilege during this time. I have a roof over my head, my work has not been impacted, I have a loving partner who I enjoy spending time with and a small dog who is loving the extra attention and walks he is receiving.
As I write this, it is 2 weeks since that post. The Victorian Government has announced we will be easing out of the restrictions, and you can feel that the mood has lifted in Melbourne. We know we will be working from home for the rest of the year, but there is already chatter of maybe having a Christmas party and that in itself is such a positive thought to keep us going!
I have read some of the other posts on this site and have been overwhelmed with the extra adversities people have had to deal with this year. As if a global pandemic weren’t enough! I count myself very lucky – sure, I’ve been bored, I missed my cousin’s wedding in Perth, I’ve had a few days where I broke into tears for no reason; but I have been safe and well all year, and I think I’ll probably come out stronger. I’ve learnt to love my little Melbourne home. I’ve proven I can do my job remotely. I’ve shown myself I don’t have to go out on the weekend to have a nice weekend. My husband and dog have been wonderful lockdown companions. We work together to beat boredom and support each other on low days and celebrate the little wins. I can’t wait to get back out and help Melbourne get back on her feet.
…right after I figure out how to interact with people again…