Has this pandemic really been that bad? Of course it has: death, despair, isolation, illness, economic devastation, educational disaster, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, melancholy, panic, political division, nightmares, insomnia, over-eating, under-performing, financial panic, drinking, fighting, wondering if anything will ever be the same again. Knowing that everything will never be the same again. Wondering how much to mind.
But, as with any change, now that the re-opening of our lives is looming, we are asking ourselves: has it been that bad? The same question we might ask ourselves when – worn down – we are leaving a terrible relationship. Or when – mental health in tatters – we are exiting an appalling job. Or when – after being cramped and damp and at the mercy of a horrible landlord and evil neighbour – we move house.
And so, now, after all these months of no one and nothing we are staring down the barrel of everyone and everything and many of us don’t like it one bit. What will happen to our precious alone time? An odd question to ask after months of resenting all the bastard alone time? How will we find the energy to venture out in the evening after a year of longing to put on a frock and chat over a cocktail and a menu? The reality might have teeth.
We are suddenly looking back at these lockdowns – with their corrosive seclusion and emotional extremes – with rose tinted spectacles. Honeyed time at home. Halcyon days of peace and quiet. Was it really that bad? Yes. It was. But now our greatest fear is that the next chapter could be worse. Could expose us. Could defeat us. Could prove that we are lazy and bad after all. Right now, if you offered me another month of lockdown, I’d take it. And that is my secret shame.