#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 96

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 96

Day 96

A man shouts a greeting I do not understand from the saddle of his bicycle to the men seating outside the pub. They raise their pints to the cyclist and laugh.

‘It’s odd,’ I comment, ‘seeing people at the pub.’

Our feet carry us towards the building. We have no inclination to get in but the sight lures us to it. A few tables away from the men, a family is sitting by a round table. A few metres further still, the entrance of the pub is guarded by two bodies. One is sitting behind a computer, the other blocks the door. I take it in as we walk, not stopping to stare.

‘It’s…’ I try to find words for what I feel but nothing comes to me. I do not know how to encapsulate how odd this sight is but also how normal. It is almost soothing to see people enjoying a pint on a Sunday afternoon. Only there are not enough people outside and there shouldn’t be someone at the door acting like a bouncer, not in this pub. But still, it is an unmistakable sign of life returning to what it was.

I  have been trying to banish the word ‘normal’ from my vocabulary. I do not want to say ‘normal’ because I do not want the pre-pandemic normal to be the one we return to. There is so much I want to change, yearn to see being changed. So I alter my vocabulary. I use the word ‘before’ a lot or the expression ‘the times pre-covid’. It rasps against my throat, the sentences jagged and unnatural, but I refuse to say the word ‘normal’.

‘…life,’ I end up saying to describe the pub. My eyes glitter with excitement. ‘Imagine that, stopping in our walk for a quick drink and a snack.’

‘But not now.’

‘No, not now,’ I confirm. Not anytime soon, I think. I remember my thoughts of the day before about not missing the outdoors too much, about feeling relaxed in my home, keeping busy. What I didn’t add to this trail of thoughts is how my house and immediate outdoors has become a bubble of safety. I know these places, I control these places enough that they are marked as safe. Inside a building or further afield, the unknowns are too many to calculate and predict. They are unsafe in my mind.

We carry on walking, through familiar streets and known parks until we have created a loop of footfalls starting and ending at our front door.

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