#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 08

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 08

Day 08

I apply hand sanitiser to the trolley handlebar, rub a squirt more in my hands, step in line no further than the markings on the floor. I put on the face mask and enter the shop at the guard’s order and try not to think about the anxiety rising in me.

A mountain of Easter eggs face me as I pass the automatic doors. I grab one and put it in the trolley. It isn’t on the shopping list but Easter is a few days away and this year I feel like joining in the celebrations.

Behind the sea of chocolate, the fruit and vegetable racks are desolate. I briefly wonder if I’ll be able to get enough for two weeks. I take what I need, holding plastic packaged fruits and vegs in my hands. I hate having to do this, to bring this much plastic back to my home. We have been good those last few years in reducing our plastic waste, but today there is no choice. Unpackaged goods are few and nobody really wants to touch them, me included.

The meat and fish aisles are decimated, barely any choice left to the shopper. But the meatless alternatives are full as ever. I smile at the sight. At least, it’s not difficult for me to get sausages and burgers. But today, I do not grab any. I have a freezer full of choice already.

I carry on, waiting behind people as they stand in front of the products I want. The supermarket staff navigates between us all, face free of masks, hands free of gloves. I wonder if they feel safe. I don’t.

In the home baking aisle there is only buckwheat flour. I smile at the sight. We always struggle to get buckwheat flour but today it is all there is. I grabbed two bags, thinking of all the crêpes I’ll be able to make.

The essentials in the trolley, I turn my attention to snacks and wines. There isn’t truly need for those but it is Easter and a good apéritif would be nice. I fill the trolley with a selection of each.

On my way to the till, I pass the gardening section. I select a few tools that will help us with the weeds and place them on top of the growing pile of food I have amassed. It looks like too much, wasteful. I know there are non-essentials in there and items bought because they were there and I couldn’t think if we needed them or not. But I can’t turn back now. If I’ve touch something, I shouldn’t put it back on a shelf. It’s the rule, isn’t it?

In any case, we need food for two weeks, maybe more. We don’t normally shop for two weeks at a time so the trolley is bound to appear too big.

The lady sitting at the till seems bored. I greet her with a smile and she proceeds to scan the food. She barely looks at me. I wonder how she feels, how she’s coping but don’t ask. Apart from the screen between us, she has the same look in her face that I used to see before the pandemic crippled the world. It is comforting in a sense, the normality of her expression and gestures. So I don’t probe and pack as fast as I can, my normal packing plans thrown out of the window. I just want to get out of here.

Bags piled in the boot of the car, my partner drives away and I walk home. I take the mask off and breathe trying to let go of the tension in my shoulders. But I cannot relax. The shopping part may be done but we now need to clean the food and I need a shower. I don’t know that any of it is necessary. It’s probably excessive but I don’t want to take a chance. I have asthma, my partner a weak immune system. What if not cleaning everything puts us at risk? And what does it cost us to clean?

Back home, I unpack the car in the garden and we set to work. We are beginning to develop a routine. I unpack, my partner cleans, I shower scrubbing every inch of my body and come back down to tidy whilst my partner goes to the shower.

The food neatly tidied in a tetris like fashion in our fridge and cupboards, I feel like I can breath again. The house is clean, as far as we know. In reality I know we have reset the clock. We could be infected but won’t know for a while. It doesn’t matter. We have food in our kitchen and the sun is still warm in the garden. We pour ourselves a glass of wine and sit outside. In a minute our day will resume but for now it is paused while we let go of the anxiety and fear the afternoon has raised in us.

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