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Notes From Isolation

authenticity Apr 22, 2020

 

I keep waking up with my arms folded across my chest, like a stern, disappointed headmistress and for a moment I forget that the world is standing on its head and wonder how many more minutes I can steal in bed before I have to persuade the child into his uniform and send him out into the world all over again.

And then I remember. And it is with both grief and relief that I burrow further into cosy nest and realise that today, like yesterday, is mine to do with it what I will, here, at home.

Home. How loaded that word now seems. A prison, and a place of true domestic liberation. A creative space in which to explore dreams narrowed by necessity. So much both discovered and mourned.

I have been astonished, you know? Astonished by how simple pleasures have now taken centre stage. Yoga, food, reading. Amazed by the discernment I now practice shopping online, my urge to spend deeply refined by what now seems essential and what is clearly so very surplus. And I have been bewildered by the cacophony of emotions I seem now to experience in technicolor. One day catatonic, the next churning up the whole house, re-inventing the domestic wheel and dancing as I do it. Sometimes weepy, sometimes so joyous, that fuelled by Malbec, I perform late night musicals for Finley’s friends on Facetime, and make myself laugh till I retreat downstairs again and have a little sob for the sheer resilience of teenagers missing each other so very much. I am at once frugal, stretching out one pot meals for days, and extravagant, spending more on food than we ever have done and reaping the benefits in the frankly amazing loss of a stone in weight. I am deeply focused: on keeping the freezer stocked and my family alive and yet demented by the inability to write that so very often possesses me during times of personal crisis, let alone that which is global.

I feel hopeful, grateful and blessed. Claustraphobic and frustrated. At peace with it and ready to punch some some one’s lights out. I am obsessed with the birds. Scribbling plans for re-designing the garden to make it all the lovelier for them. To turn this concrete and grass nightmare into something that will speak of the time we had to really throw ourselves into bringing it to life.

Today then. A glorious morning in the sun. A lunch of the minestrone Ste created from all the leftovers in the fridge. A hug with my boy as he ploughs through the last of his GCSE’s.

And a funeral.

Yes, a funeral. A funeral I will watch in the quiet of my bedroom. The blessing of a virtual invitation to the burial of my best friend Debbie’s beautiful Mum. A woman who is so very much a part of my teenage years and who I will miss for always.

I am heartbroken. I am sick of the politicising of this miserable situation I see relentlessly exploited on social media. One friend screeching if you voted Tory take yourself off my friends list now! Another spouting lie after lie to further the more ludicrous aspects of her ludicrous argument. Then sharing pictures of a life that involves anything but social distancing. An odd sort of rebellion that strikes me as the deliberate sacrifice of those working in the NHS she so loudly insists she supports. Both apparently forgetting that this is about humanity. That right now we no more want to hear the demonising of individual politicians than we want to hear of the latest death tolls, when those who will be buried cannot be celebrated in the way we as society have long been able to pay our respects. When for some this is about more than hysterical rhetoric, and is instead all too real.

I want to exist in isolation in gratitude, not rage. I want to keep finding the teeniest joy in all the small things. For the daffodils Ste adds to the shopping lists I write and brings home for me after waiting so patiently in line. For the privilege of the technology that makes it possible for me to attend Diane’s funeral, and beam my love down the network to her and to her precious family. For all the time I have been granted to know my son without the distraction of life beyond our front door. For the privilege of a loving family and secure home I am now so aware of. For the veg boxes a gorgeous girl leaves on my doorstep weekly, and all those still working to make things like that, and things so very much more important, happen.

There will be time in the future for picking this crisis apart. For allocating blame and choosing scapegoats. But I don’t want to hear it now. I want to believe, rightly or wrongly at the moment, that those working on our behalf have our best interests at heart, despite the endless adversity they must be facing. I want to hug my best friend, see my Dad, support Ste as he comes and goes in turn supporting those who need him and believe that on the other side of all of this, lessons will have been learned, political and personal, that we can use to bolster humanityheart and home.

For my Debbie, and her Diane. For all of us.


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