#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 44
The idea of a collection of daily words describing how you felt for 30 days of social distancing and isolation feels really meaningful to me and something that I think I’d really appreciate having in 10 years. Think outside the box of what you might typically write!— NaNoWriMo (@NaNoWriMo) March 31, 2020
‘Hey! How are you doing?’
The voice of my furthest neighbour in my row of three houses carries to the open window of the study.
‘I’m alright. You?’ My immediate neighbour enquires. Her hands still, the damp bedsheets she was about to hang slopping in the laundry basket. In a cot next to it, her baby gurgles.
‘Oh you know.’ She pauses for a second. ‘It’s all nonsense isn’t it?’ Her voice is strained, filled with melancholy and longing that makes her words drool. I do not need to peer through the window to see her face long and worn down by worries. It seems an age when I last saw her smiling. She had just bought a new caravan then and the trees had been bare. It has been laying dormant on her drive ever since.
‘I don’t understand why I can’t see my son but I can have a cleaner, a total stranger in my house,’
‘I know. I can see my parents only one at a time. It’s ridiculous.’
The baby cries out.
‘Hello you,’ my furthest neighbour say. ‘Aren’t you all cute with your little baby hat?’ Her voice has lost some of its depth, her pitch shifting an octave or two for the benefit of the child.
The baby laughs, enjoying the attention. It is nice to hear them laugh. Their cries has far too often broken the silence of our street of late.
‘How is he doing,’ she asks. I am sure she has heard the cries too.
‘He’s very demanding. You can tell he’s not getting any interaction with other babies.’
I look out of the window but can’t see them, my view restricted to the top of the house behind mine, the leaves in the trees, and the bright blue sky. I jot down note about the conversation between my neighbours on a piece of paper, afraid to forget this moment. For the past week, it has been difficult to write this diary. Events of the day slip by me, memories merging into one another. I have grown less aware of my emotional state, less aware of the passage of time. I don’t see it as a bad thing. I have relaxed, my being less on a state of alert at all times. This is my new world, one in which I am paid to explore creative endeavours, one in which my house and immediate neighbourhood are my boundaries. I have accepted the loss of freedom, the sanctuary of my home. I don’t feel safe exactly but I have adapted and grown new routines.
My neighbours are back inside, safe too within the walls of their home. I check my phone. There are no e-mails from work. I know I will not hear back from them immediately about a return to work but I cannot help it. Every hour or so, I refresh my e-mails hoping to see the familiar name of the HR manager pop onto my screen. I stare at the rows of unread e-mails, delete the ones of no interest without thinking and refresh the screen again. Nothing. I check WhatsApp. There is a message from a colleague who is working from home. I wonder what this lockdown is like for her. Is she feeling disconnected with the rest of the furlough population? How many of us are furloughed and killing time in whatever way we can? In my immediate surroundings, most people are not working, waiting. Is it fair that we are paid the same as those still working? I don’t know. It is a difficult question to answer, one I cannot resolve.
‘Do you want to go for a walk before the play?’
‘Sure. In fifteen minute,’ I shout down so my partner can hear on the ground floor.
I return my attention to my screen, the last pieces for my submission to Queer Out Here falling into place. I lock them in their position and export the file onto my external hard drive and desktop. It is not ready yet but it is good enough to be shared should my computer die unexpectedly. I watch the export diagram move forward until I leave it be to check my e-mails. There still isn’t any from work. It’s near 6pm now and I know there won’t be any for the rest of the day. Files exported, I grab my camera, sling it over my shoulders, and with my partner we head out for a stretch of the legs around Mead Park.