Here we are, suddenly the end of May and summer is in its strange, social distancing swing in Portsmouth. The weather is beautiful, and a great many are seizing the day and swarming to the beaches and commons in their hordes. There have been a few SMALL relaxations to the rules, ‘now one person can meet someone from outside their household outdoors, as long as they stay more than 2m apart.’ Is allowed. Portsmouth citizens have taken this rule, and made some very flexible interpretations. On my walks out to the seafront for the sake of sanity, fresh air and getting the step count going, over the last few weeks I’ve seen beach parties of teens, large family picnics, football matches and gangs of kids on bikes all jammed together and having the jolliest of times, the 2 meter rule seemingly a distant annoyance of the past.
I don’t resent these people for their gaiety, nor their need to feel togetherness and enjoyment outdoors. I understand why they are behaving how they are. What I cannot forgive however, is the selected ignorance with which many seem to be acting. As if at once they deserve the space and freedom we’ve all been craving over the past few months, and a decrease in deaths by the hundreds from this virus in the news every day means… life is back to normal?
Many friends of mine I’ve spoken to lately have aired similar complaints:
‘I just want it to be over now.’
‘I just want to see my friends.’
‘We’re getting so sick of just the two of us doing nothing!’
‘I miss everyone so much!’
Believe me, I understand. As an extroverted introvert (my official Myers Briggs reading), there have been many, many hours and days throughout the lockdown where seeing people would have made me feel ten times brighter, when the welcome distraction of a drink with friends would have been bliss, and when I’ve frankly felt like I’m counting the hours to another sleep, followed by another day spent with… You guessed it! Me.
But, we as humans are designed to think higher than that of our most basic needs. To remind ourselves that the reason why we have been feeling bored, alone, frustrated and stir crazy is so monumental, dangerous, and historically singular for almost every generation living – we should continue to respect it, and act with caution for the sake of the many. The fact even prominent politicians have been caught out seemingly thinking they are not only exempt from the rules, but in no way accountable to answer for their actions in breaking them, stirs a rage within me when combined with what I see a few minutes from my own door. I feel the horrific inevitability of a second spike looming, if people are not more careful, and more importantly, considerate.
The positives? Well, there have been many if I’m being honest. The deadlines for our degree were finally handed in a few weeks ago, and it at once felt like Christmas, a birthday and the last day of school rolled into one. The same combination of unbridled joy in the moment, pride and excitement at the day having finally arrived after a three year journey, with the strange bitter sweetness that – this path on the journey is now over? No more lectures. No more coffees with pals either praising the merits or slamming the fumblings of that day. No more baked potato lunches before class, or seminars in which we’ll discuss the artistry, storytelling, history and social power of film, nor the technique, beauty, and epic effect of writing in all our lives. I’ll write a post on this when I graduate in July, to try and unroll so many more of these thoughts, which over the next few months I can only imagine will percolate and grow further, as they have been every passing week.
Dare I add more positives? I do. Over the past three months, I’ve proven to myself I am not only capable of cohesive and productive time management when left to my own devices, but that I indeed thrive and enjoy many aspects of this new way of life. I’ve stuck to my regime (for the most part… treat days every week are ABSOLUTELY necessary, as is a PJ day on the sofa emulating a sloth) exercising most days of the week – either yoga or a good stomp to the seafront, and cutting my calories so that for the first time in my adult life – I’m fitting into a size ten dress. This is a girl who was damn near a size 20 and weighing in at well over 16 stone at one point in her life. I feel comfortable in my own skin more so than ever before, and unafraid of being ‘the chubby girl’ in the room anymore. This to me is frankly up there with the degree as achievements go. Not because they both define who I am – or how people may perceive me – but because the greatest reward to come mutually from them is… I’ve proven to myself that I can do it, that I wanted it enough and have reached the goal line, if a little late, and with a few stretch marks… All on my own.
The following few months will see our final assessment marks being returned (can I get an eek…!), the last and most nerve-wracking of which comes out on the day of my birthday. There are nerves, always, about so many large milestones heading toward me – leaving Portsmouth, turning twenty eight, graduating (hopefully) with a good degree, and heading into a new chapter of my life, in what currently is a world spinning more than slightly off its axis. Right now though, in this strange in between stage of being neither working student nor a graduate, not working any shifts nor being unemployed, being separated yet still very much connected, all one can really do is wait… and enjoy the sunshine.