#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 95

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 95

Day 95

‘Fourteen points,’ my partner says.

‘Is that it?’

I lean across to her on the bed and peer at the screen of her phone. Tiles are arranged on the digital Scrabble board in a tight packed pattern.

‘Oh, tricky.’

My partner nods.

I shuffle the letters about for a while, hoping to find inspiration. The board is telling us we can get much more than fourteen points. ‘What about there,’, I suggest, lining tiles against another set of words. The number 27 appears next to our word. There is more points to be had according to the app but we cannot be bothered to look for another word or position on the board.

We switch to the second game my partner has on the go. The pattern is more open, making it easier to insert new words in and stick letters close to one another for extra points. We linger in bed, playing Scrabble with people we only know by their app name. They too seem to be having a lazy morning, words being placed rapidly after ours.

The games over, I brush my teeth and head to the attic to retrieve a fabric I had bought a year previously to create a darkroom in the house we use to rent. I still have plenty of material spare and for the next two hours, I cut and tape pieces of cardboard together, covering them with the black out material I have. There are slight light leaks coming from the window but they are faint enough that I don’t worry about them. The door is a jumble of left over fabric, towels, and dressing gown to block the light coming from the corridor. The job finished, I lay down on the cold tiles and stare at the empty space above me. I can barely make out the features of our bathroom, the details known more than seen.

It reeks of the chemicals on the fabric adorning the window but I do not care. I feel safe and cocooned in this space. It is broad day light but in here it is dark and I can imagine what I want for the outside. I close my eyes, grey details disappearing from sight, and listen. I cannot hear the slow faint traffic of a Saturday morning, the double glazing doing its insulating job. But I can hear my partner below me, listening to a video lecture. The American voices echo familiarly, the waves of their speech reaching me like a the constant line of a drone.

A drop of water falls from the shower head, exploding against the cold white ceramic of the bath. I can hear it break into hundreds of smaller droplets, sliding into the drain hole. I open my eyes and get out of the bathroom, my eyes squinting at the brightness of the corridor. I step into the study and grab one of my camera. I want to use it as an enlarger. I have seen a video of someone doing it with a similar camera to mine. Only they had better tools than me. My tripod is inadequate for the job but I’m hoping I can project an image onto the bathroom wall but this will have to wait, for now I have scones to make for an afternoon tea date with Jonathan and Dan.

Scones whipped up and cooking in the oven, I arrange the table with an array of savoury food to eat with them. Steaming hot and not quite scone like, I set the baked good to the table and open up Skype waiting for my friends. E. joins me and soon we are all chatting away, eating scones and drinking tea.

‘I haven’t really missed anything,’ Jonathan comments during the conversation. I pause at his remark. I haven’t missed very much either. I certainly haven’t missed shops and the frenzy of consumerism. I have missed walking, cycling, and wild camping, but not as much as I expected. When reminded of it, I have felt the sharp edge of longing, the desire to get out in nature and think of nothing at all. But I have not suffered form the lack of micro adventures the way I normally do. Living at home, I have been able to set my own schedule, manage my own time and mental effort. I have not needed to push myself beyond what I wanted and crammed too much in too little time. Instead, I have consumed more artistic works than before, I have learned and am learning new skills, and I am learning to live with change and manage the anxiety it can bring.

‘It turns out, I’m more of a home buddy than you,’ I tell my partner later that day. ‘I definitely wouldn’t have said that before.’

My partner is beginning to feel trapped within the walls of our home. She wants to get away, travel and explore, while I am happy remaining where I am, exploring every inch of our neighbourhood and keeping busy with personal projects within the house. I would lie if I said I didn’t miss the outdoors. Of course I do. But I have shifted my expectations for now. Instead of exploring paths and roads further afield, I am learning about trees in my streets and along our daily walks. I am watching the garden grow and change, my hands turning the soil and observing the life underground while uprooting weeds. I am relaxed. In a sense, I have accepted this lockdown as a luxury of time, a privilege to reflect and learn. I watch the world and see my place in it, question it, reflect on it. This hasn’t been and isn’t an easy road. Last month, I have been adrift, the possibility of returning to work weighing on me. My anxiety spilled through my body and I was afraid. The world exploded in a burst of fire and I felt lost. I have not resolved those issues within me. My anxiety has not disappeared. It has quieten. The world is still ablaze. I am learning, shifting, questioning.

I think about this as I lay on the floor tiles in the dark bathroom. My camera didn’t work as intended to create a print. Instead I am attempting some contact prints. I am using a salt bath instead of chemicals to fix the image on paper and this takes a long time. So I wait. I think I’ve messed it up but it doesn’t matter. I will keep trying, the art of the darkroom too alluring to let go of it.

A knock comes on the door. ‘I need the loo.’

‘One minute,’ I shout back from the darkness within. I cover the tray with the prints in it and open the door. I could have done that earlier, gotten out and carried on with something else, but I like it here, in the dark.

‘How is it going,’ my partner asks as she comes in.

‘I’m not sure,’I reply honestly. ‘I think I’ve messed it up again but I have ideas for improvement.’

She looks at me quizzically.

‘No, not now,’ I reassure her. ‘What time is it anyway?’ I check my phone. It is nearly six o’clock. A good time to stop and return to a world of light.

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