Suspended in lockdown limbo

Here we go again. After a heart-lifting Paddy’s Day spent working in the garden in the sunshine, the gales are back. This time they’ve brought along some hail, just to mix things up. Spring is definitely here, but sitting inside, as the rain pummels the house, it might as well be November. Outside the buds are starting to burst and the flowers are showing off just how beautiful a hedgerow can be. I see them as I drive past in my car, the heating on full force and the windshield wipers beating double time. Though the weather is foul, I pass many hardy souls out for their lockdown walk. I have never seen so many people walking these country roads. Old and young, they are out in all sorts of weather. I am not one of them. After what feels like a lifetime in lockdown, I am like a stubborn toddler when it comes to going outside and doing something healthy. If I can’t go to the beach then I’m not going anywhere. I will not go outside unless the temperature is in the two-digit range. I will not brave the weather, to go trudging along the muddy roads and overflowing ditches. I will stay inside, until my legs wither away, and my bone density is that of a 90-year-old woman. I commend anyone who is still managing to get out there. You are made of stronger stuff than I.

I apologise for being so grumpy. It’s the result of being suspended in this lockdown limbo for far too long. I wish the deadline for this column was the first weekend of April and not the last weekend in March. Not only is there a chance that the weather might be better, but we will finally know next week if we are to remain cloistered in our 5km, or if some of the restrictions will be lifted. The last few weeks have not been very positive. The Covid numbers, though moving downwards, are still high. The vaccine rollout is more of a slow treacle pace, than the sprint to immunisation I was hoping for back in January. Last week the government was warning us not to get our hopes up. Today they are saying they might lift the 5km restriction, but then again, they might not. It’s not that I’ve given up hope. I’m just taking a zen, grin and bear it approach until things become clearer. I’m just not very good at it – hence the grumpiness.

Though frustrated, I’ll admit that my frustrations are few compared to many others stuck in lockdown limbo. That only adds to the guilt of not going out for walks, or not doing yoga. I feel guilty for feeling so fed up. That and envy. I feel envy for those who live in sunnier climes. I feel envy for those who live in countries where the lockdown has not been so restrictive. The Germans have a word: Impfneid. It means vaccine envy and I feel it every time a friend in the UK, or the US posts a picture of them getting vaccinated. The Germans also have a word for that fed up feeling: Coronamude, which translates as Corona tired. We are all coronamude.

I’ve developed various coping mechanisms over the last year. I listen to playlists while I work, which I would have never listened to before. They are mostly jazz/bosa instrumental mixes with names like ‘Amsterdam coffee shop’, or ‘NYC cocktail lounge’. Along with the music are sounds of expresso machines, cutlery, and people chatting. I find them very soothing. As I write this, I am listening to a playlist entitled ‘Songs for imagining your Parisian Life’, which is odd because I have never wanted to live in Paris.  As for pandemic insomnia: one Zirtex and an episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and I sleep like a baby. Go figure.

I had a look at my column from one year ago, during the first lockdown and was surprised to see that not much has changed: ‘I wish I could get in my car and drive far, far away. I miss my friends. I miss the ocean. I miss the pub. I miss gigs. I miss Brussels and Madrid, Thessaloniki and London. I miss places that I have never been to. I am scared to look forward to the summer. Will we be able to go back to the beach? I think I could fare better if I could just go to the beach again. When will be able to meet up with friends – even at a distance?’

The gale is howling around the house. The rain is battering the windows like an automatic machine gun. The dogs took one look outside and went straight back to bed. Eartha Kitt is singing ‘C’est si bon’ on my playlist. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. It’s going to get better; of course, it’s going to get better. Next week is Easter, and who knows? The sun will shine. The temperatures will rise and the restrictions will be lifted to at least 20km, which means that I can go to the beach again. Here’s hoping…

Tina Pisco

Tina Pisco is a best-selling author, who has lived in West Cork, Ireland for the past twenty years.

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