#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 70

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 70

Day 70

‘Hummm…. Salad,’ I mumble my mouth full of green leaves. ‘Fresh, fresh, fresh salad.’ I shove another forkful in my mouth, close my eyes, and savour the cool leaves against my tongue.

My partner and I have just returned from our food shop, our fridge overflowing with fresh vegetables.

‘I’ve missed salad,’ I comment as if it wasn’t obvious enough.

My partner laughs. ‘Yes. I can see. Can I have some more?’ She pushes her plate to the salad bowl. I grab a spoonful for her and put it on her plate.

We finish devouring our salad in silence, savouring every ounce of freshness and flavour from the uncooked vegetables. It has been over two weeks since we have been to a supermarket and all of our meals over the last few days have been based around using floppy decaying vegetables.

‘It’s funny how food shops have changed,’ I say as we are doing the dishes. ‘I was not exactly relaxed in the shop but I wasn’t stressed either. And I was excited at the idea of going and getting fresh products.’

‘Yes. It feels like luxury now to have salad.’

‘Maybe we need to start growing it,’ I comment but I am doubtful we will. I have never been successful at growing my own salad, birds and slugs always get to it before I do.

‘That would mean going to a garden centre.’

‘I know.’ I do not like the idea of going to a garden centre. In my imagination, I can picture the small pathways of the few garden centres we have been to before lockdown, their narrow alleys crowded with people.

Gardening is something new to my partner and I. I have attempted to grow some vegetables in our neighbour and friend garden when we lived in London. I lived in another part of the city then and it was difficult to take care of the garden properly. Neither my partner or friend had any inclination in the activity so the garden remained mostly untended, carrots and beetroots growing of their own accord.

I am unfamiliar with the space within garden centres, unclear where plants and seeds live, the labels and pictures on packets unknown. I know I will not be able to remain focused on my environment and selecting what we need. So I refuse to visit garden centres, our supermarket serving as food shop, art supplies shop, and garden centre.

‘Maybe later,’ I say after a while. ‘Just not now.’

‘It’s okay,’ my partner replies.

The dishes tidied and dried, we go our separate ways. My partner retires to the living room and I settle in the bathroom with the tools of film development. The routine of jugs, scale, and warm water is beginning to feel familiar but this time the ingredients and less so. I am trying a homemade, more eco-friendly development method. All I need are some soda crystals, cheap coffee granules, and vitamin C. I glance over my notes, measures, and tips gathered from YouTube videos and other online resources. I follow the instructions, carefully measure each ingredients in turn and mix it all together. The mixture reeks of bad coffee and pharmaceutical orange smell.

I pour the solution into my developing tank, the film safely protected from light inside and set the timer. There is something meditative about following the clock, patiently, diligently inverting the tank according to the rules I have written down. I do not have time to think or consider the world outside, all of my attention focused on not messing up the development. Fifteen minutes go by, and then another as I develop the last rolls that have lived in my bedside table for far too long.

The negatives hang between the curtain rail and the shower rail. I watch the images with squinting eyes, illuminating the frames with my phone. I can see the lights of London around Christmas, friends gathered around a table drinking wine, Newport old transportation bridge, and the sight of South Wales in late Spring. I remember that ride with fondness, the first one I dared make so long after a winter plagued with bad asthma and too many week-ends spent indoors.

I want to print those images and file them in photo albums like my mom used to do. Darkrooms are not far from me, inkjet printer even more accessible and yet I have not printed a single film photograph since I have gone back to it. ‘Soon,’ I promise to myself. ‘As soon as you go back to work,’ I set the deadline and nod quietly to myself.

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