#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 63
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
‘Can we not go this morning,’ I ask my partner as I slap my phone to turn the alarm off.
‘Sure,’ my partner replies sleepily.
‘Thanks.’ I grab my phone and turn off all of the remaining alarms.
We had planned to visit Berrow sands very early to avoid any possible crowds but at 6am I just want to sleep. I didn’t sleep well in the night and have no strength to face the outside world.
I wake up again past 8am still feeling groggy. It is later than I should be up during the week and get out of the bed. I head to the study and catch up with some online reading. The sun is beating down outside, the grass burned yellow in our garden and our neighbour’s one. Only weeds are green at the edges. We have decided early after moving in this house back in September to let the garden grow before doing anything to it. It turns out the garden contains a lot of weeds we do not like. I leave my computer and head to the garden. I pluck at the easy weeds, leaving the spade for the bigger ones. As I kneel on the ground I think of the onslaught of news that is my feed on Twitter.
It is #BlackOutTuesday where people the world over show support to black people in the fight against racism. Black images are flooding my feed, people are taking a stance and shouting loud. In the last few weeks, I have been confronted with my own lack of education in a history that includes black people. Today I am reminded of how large a gap there is in my experiences to that of black people. I do not post a black square on my social media feed. Instead I look and listen. It is too much. I am flooded by a deluge of articles, photos, links, and videos. I cannot process all of it, not now. I bookmark resources for tomorrow. For now, I question what has led me to this lack of education.
My social media feed is not just filled with #BlackOutTuesday, it is also populated with #DeniedMyVote, a campaign that aims to stand up against discrimination of EU citizens in the UK. In the midst of Covid-19 and racism, this feels almost unimportant, something that can wait. But it cannot. It is important and has deeper repercussions that a vote being denied once. I think about this too as I kneel in the garden. I have written about Brexit and being stranded on an island that has now branded me as foreign. I have accepted that the UK is leaving the European Union but I have not finished grieving for it.
All those matters are swirling in my head and I don’t know how to deal with them properly. I have not been taught to live in a world that is erupting in anger. It is not a world that should keep quiet because the anger is justified, the change is needed. And if we do not change now, then when?
I also know change takes time but this is a start. Being angry, listening, being open to change.
I grab the spade and dig into the roots of thick weeds, the edges of our garden revealing themselves to us for the first time since lockdown began. My partner joins me and we fill our garden waste bin with the residue of our attack on the garden. We do not talk about what is happening in the world outside of our fence. Instead, I say ‘Let’s go to Berrow sands tonight’.
I do not truly want to go. This involves leaving my perimeter of safety and this is not something I am happy doing. But I need to deal with my growing anxiety. I cannot remain inside my house and neighbourhood for the rest of my life.
We leave after dinner in the hope the beach will be empty. In the car, I read in order not to think about what we’re doing and where we’re going. Soon we arrive at our destination. We park the car at the side of the road unwilling to pay for parking. We walk through the nature reserve, paths half-remembered from the last time we were here. It had been a sunny day in May 2019 that seems to belong to another lifetime now. It takes us a while to reach the beach, our steps losing themselves in overgrown footpaths until we find one that is clear. Over the dunes, I catch my first glimpse of the beach and the estuary. I wanted to feel elated and free, happy to see the horizon line and have an unbroken view to my left and right. But I am not. I feel nothing.
I walk down the beach and follow my partner away from families and groups of friends still lingering at the edges of the dunes. We walk over wet sand and I break down. We argue, not yet knowing how to deal with how we’re feeling. My partner is happy to be here, smelling the fresh air and seeing further than her eyes can take in. But I am not. I am angry at the world. I am angry at the government that is making a farce of this pandemic. I am angry at myself for not being happy to be here, for feeling scared, for wanting to flee. This, right here, is a space where I should feel safe. This, right here, is a space where I should feel free. Instead I am paralysed and the realisation of my loss makes me cry.
Eventually my partner and I find a way to talk and express how we feel. I grab onto her, cling to her steady body in the sand, and carry on crying for a while. I let go and we walk. I put one foot in front of the other and force my hands out of my pockets. We watch the sun set over the water, an industrial tower glowing pink in the distant landscape of Wales.
My partner takes my hand and silently we walk. I relax. I take a photo of the sun’s reflection in a pool of water and explain the process of taking this photo to my partner. She is intermittently interested in photography but never happy with her shots. I give her tips to understand how her phone behaves and how she can capture what she wants. For a few minute we play with the cameras in our phones, trying different exposures. The sun has exploded into orange glow, seeping into the clouds that transforms the light under their covers. A moment later, pink replaces orange as the sun calls the light back towards its centre.
We climb over the dunes and back to the car, the sun lost behind the sand. Entre chiens et loups, our eyes adjust to the fading light, our feet find the correct footpaths, and soon we are navigating the well known road into Bristol. A busy A-road, it is deserted, our car a lone beacon in the night.