Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
LAST night I dreamt I was home alone.
Like all my lockdown dreams, it was vivid and realistic. There I was, at the far end of the kitchen, where my desk is, the only sound the tip-tap of the keyboard under my fingers and the tick-tock of the clock on the wall.
In my dream, everyone else was out: at school or college or work. I wouldn't see them until later in the day. My dreams, I think, are a way for my mind to briefly escape from the madness of my lockdown life.
It's a different kind of madness, of course. Before Covid19, I lived my life with the help of lists. Scribbles in multiple handwriting, on a page-per-day diary, always open on the centre work unit in our kitchen. In recent times, it would fill with reminders, appointments, driving practice with adult children, shopping, lifts to GAA practice and matches in far-flung clubs, the roster for my part-time job.
But now the business is inside and closer to home. We treat our rooms as offices and self-contained flats, except that here, five people juggle for access to the internet. I pass the living room on my way out for a walk within my 5km, and smile as I hear The Boy's deep voice in class. Today, he and 60,000 other Leaving Cert students have returned to their schools, after nearly two months of online lectures.
Upstairs, The Eldest has been teaching her primary school students online. Briefly, from outside the closed door, I overhear her voice, bright and encouraging and enthusiastic, and I feel a rush of pride.
Because my desk is in the kitchen, I imagine I'm working in an office, where there's no space, so I've set up in the corner of the canteen. People drift in and out for their tea and toast, bowls of soup or mugs of coffee. Quite often, they wonder if I'm bored and want somebody to chat to. Sometimes, I am and I do. At other times, I wish to hell that they could all stop eating and drinking quite as much.
I feel an almost anxious urge to stay in touch with family and friends, as I worry that if I don't, they'll forget about me, or our friendships will drift and be irrevocably damaged. I don't mind video calls, but to my surprise, some people hate them. 'It's like the digital version of turning up unannounced to somebody's door,' a friend tells me patiently. Even with warning? Even then. What are the pyjama sales like, I wonder?
I read online that lots of people working from home spend the day in their pyjamas. I'll come straight out and say that will never be me: it would make me depressed. And even though I've been living in the same two pairs of jeans, selection of long-sleeve tops and about three wool jumpers, it helps me, to be dressed. But because I technically have less to do, and more time to do it, I worry that I'll never return to pre-Covid me. And I wonder if I want to.
But, I've got better at ordering stuff online. For me, and for other people. Books are my go-to, but the other day, I ordered a dress. The Eldest and The Middle One were astonished when it arrived. I want to believe that it was because I bothered to order myself clothes, and not that it actually fit.
And since the new year, I've got properly back to reading, and I love it. I restrict my Netflix to the odd weekend night in front of the telly, or mad binge-watching on my phone (yes, I have it on my phone, I'm not perfect) as I prepare the evening dinner. Lookit, chopping vegetables or peeling potatoes is the most boring bloody job: don't judge.
Now that the weather is getting better, I'm trying to see the garden work I put in during the Spring and Summer of last year, and I genuinely can't. The place is over-run with weeds and the grass is waving at us. None of us will ever get our old push-mower through it.
I feel like the garden is a sort of metaphor for my life right now. In fact, it might be a metaphor for a lot of our lives. At the start of this year, I wrote a very confident, up-beat column titled, In With The New.
Now, at the start of March, I'm wondering what's really new. Just over a week ago, we all woke to the news that this Level 5 lockdown (the highest level we have here in Ireland) would be extended until at least the middle of April. It was difficult to get out of bed that morning.
But a lovely woman I once knew, would, if she were here, simply reassure me that 'this too shall pass'.
And I still choose to believe that.
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