Sunday, 5 July 2020

Lockdown Confessions

As I sorted the edge pieces from the middle bits for my latest jigsaw puzzle, it dawned on me that I have been keeping a secret, these past few years.

Every other weekend, when my kids were at their dad’s (we’re separated), I spent 48 hours in my own version of lockdown. Through choice, I took the opportunity to catch up on sleep, to not get dressed, to binge box sets and to go slow. Some weekends, my partner and I wouldn’t leave the house at all. Others might involve a gentle walk to the shops for supplies or - daringly - a daytime trip to the cinema, where we’d buy all the frozen drinks and sugary snacks (don’t tell the kids). What began as an opportunistic recharging of our batteries went on to form the framework for our weekends with alarming regularity. 

Before we knew it, hibernation became routine. On sunny days, I’d look out from the wrong side of the glass, a frown on my face betraying how conflicted I felt inside. Inside. A sunny day wasted - in England, this is heresy. ‘We really should go out’ became our mantra, said for show with furrowed brows, but in full knowledge that we had no intention of leaving the nest. Our secret laziness knew no bounds. One Sunday morning, we Deliveroo-d croissants and joked that we should add the following delivery instructions: The front door is open, please come up the stairs and leave our croissants by the bedroom door. Our sloth shame in full force, there’s no way we could tell anyone for fear of judgment, so we’d bat away social inquiries with vague replies about having ‘plans’. 

But now, I feel vindicated. Because it’s this training that I credit with prepping me so well for self-isolation. Going slow isn’t a shock to the system for us secret self-isolators. We’ve been doing it for years, along with our cousin clan, the introverts. There’s something faintly amusing about the loud energy with which the rest of the world is broadcasting its newfound love of gardening, board games and baking, as if they invented slow living. Of course, the irony is that my current lockdown set-up is busier than ever before, with children breaking down the doors of my solitude, wielding PS4 controllers and demanding endless snacks (stockpiling means nothing to them, they will never make decent doomsday preppers). 

The other thing that’s changed? My shame has lifted quicker than lockdown restrictions. Who knew what freedom could be found, just when it feels like we have so little? No more will I hide my cat-like ways. You could say I’m broadcasting it now, writing this. And, last weekend, I shifted the living room furniture around to create a be-pillowed day bed in the bay window. Extra advertising: here I am, visible to the world, just lazing around doing nothing. The right side of the glass, for once. 

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