#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 91
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
‘Is that your car,’ I ask my partner. A loud metallic noise has just resonated through the streets as we drove. I look through the side view mirror but cannot see anything wrong.
‘I don’t know. I hope not,’ she replies.
We say no more and carry on driving to the instructions of the GPS. We are in an unfamiliar part of Bristol, on our way to pick up a bag of clothes for my sewing experiments.
‘Here, number 11,’ I exclaim as we inch our way through the road in search of the correct house.
My partner pulls up, park against the pavement, and I get off. I knock on the door, the noise falling flat against the wood, and step back to a safe distance.
Nothing happens. I knock again and wait. The door unlocks and a lanky teenager opens the door. Dressed with a too-short dressing gown, he hands the bag over to me and whisper ‘Sorry,’ his eyes fixed to the ground.
‘Thank you,’ I reply smiling and taking hold of the plastic bag. The door closes as soon as I have the bag in hand. I shove it in the boot and we drive back towards our home.
‘You’re exhaust is falling!’
‘What,’ my partner shouts back at the man in the car next to us. Window opens, he gestures at the back of our car and repeats, ‘your exhaust is falling!’
‘Oh. Thank you,’ my partner has just enough time to shout back before his car disappear in traffic.
‘Well, I guess that’s what the noise was earlier,’ I comment.
Back home, we call our nearest garage. They have a slot today to look at the car. At the same time, I get a notification that someone has some sewing bits and bobs they can give me. A few days earlier, I had posted an add on Freecycle.com for fabric and anything else a beginner sewer might need. I text back and hop on my bicycle to the person’s house. Leaving my bike on the ground at the end of her drive, I knock on the door, step back, and wait. The lady opens the door smiling.
‘Hello. I’m Allysse, here for the sewing bits and bobs.’
‘Hello. I’ve got a whole box for you.’ She notices my bicycle and adds worried. ‘Are you going to be okay carrying it?’
‘Sure. I’ve got straps in my backpack for the rack.’
She smiles again and disappear into the house for a minute before returning with a large plastic red box. ‘There are some needles, bits of fabric, as well as some thread, and a dress I began years ago and never finished.’
She leaves the box on the ground.
‘Thank you,’ I say infusing the words with as much meaning as possible. When she had told me online she had a few things for me, I never imagined it would be an entire box worth of things.
‘No problem. Have fun with it.’ She closes the door and I step forward to grab the box. I strap it around my backpack and cycles back home. I wash my home and disinfect the box in a series of gestures that are becoming too familiar. The washing machine with the clothes I picked up earlier in the day is finished. I hang the garments up and focus my attention on the red plastic box. I open it. There is a tray filled with half a dozens threads, bobbins, a lot of needles, and more items I cannot name but vaguely know the use for. Under it are a selection of fabric, all used and cuts in varying sizes. At the bottom, cut out for the dress are folded neatly, the paper still stuck under the blue cotton fabric. I put the tray back on and close the box.
I hear the front door open and turn my head towards it. My partner is back from the garage. ‘So?’
‘They can fix it. Apparently it’s corroded as well. It’ll be £100 to fix it. This car is starting to cost us quite a bit.’
‘Well, the battery was our fault,’ I remind my partner. ‘How long?’
‘They’ll give me a ring but it should be later today.’
‘I’ll come with you. I need to drop by the post office. Someone brought one of the item I’m selling on eBay.’
‘Well, it’s only the small cable thing,’ I add.
‘Still. It’s a start.’
My partner heads upstairs while I remain downstairs. I read through an Instructables.com tutorial about making a pair of short using an existing one for a pattern. The instructions vaguely make sense but not entirely. I figure they’ll make more sense as I start sewing. I bookmark the instructions for later. The clothes I want to cut up are still wet on the racks outside.
Later, as we are walking towards the post office and garage, I spot the figure of a friend in the distance. ‘Is that C.?’ I interject mid-sentence.
‘There. Do you think it’s him?’ I squint my eyes as if that would make his features clearer. As I do, I see the man take off the headphones on his head and stare at me. ‘It is C.,’ I exclaim.
He is on the opposite pavement as us. We cross the road and greet one another from afar. His hair has grown long, making his face even more boyish than it used to be. ‘How have you been?’
We catch up briefly, promising to see each other in our garden for a drink soon, and part ways. In spite of living a street apart, we have never bumped into each other during lockdown before now. ‘I have missed C. And G.,’ I tell my partner. I normally would spend an evening a week at their house, eating good food, watching films or tv shows, and remaking the world with them. I do not say it aloud but I wonder when we will be able to do this again. Next week, I suppose. But how will we all feel about being indoors? I stop my trail of thoughts, not wanting to kickstart my anxiety by thoughts of all the surfaces we could potentially touch, share, and infect.
‘I’ll see you at the garage,’ I tell my partner as I queue for the post office. I step in the building, cautious about my movements. This is the first public building I enter that is not a supermarket. I expected to feel a tinge of stress, a rise of anxiety, but I am okay. The space is empty, all furniture and shelving taken apart to provide as much space as possible to people. There are three customers in the shop with me, our bodies moving along invisible lines drawing two metres between us. When my turn comes, I step towards the counter, keeping my body distanced from the lady behind the unscreened counter.
I hand the small parcel over. ‘Do you take coins?’
‘Yes we do. Any kind of money, we take it,’ she jokes, a smile broadening on her face.
I reply with my own smile, my shoulders relaxing. I hand over the cash, she gives me my change, and within minutes I am back on the streets. I keep my hands by my side, away from my pockets or the skin on my face.
I reach the garage as my partner exits their entrance with the car. I open the door and get in, my hands extended towards my partner. She quirts some alcohol gel on them. ‘All fixed?’
We drive back in silence, the ride taking us through the familiar streets of our neighbourhood, the speed unfamiliar in these landscapes after three months of walking these streets over and over again.