06 Sep Lockdown, you say – can I get a vodka with that?
First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 13.9.21
Those snapshots the internet gives us of our collective curiosity are illuminating. As the nation was plunged into lockdown last month the thing we most googled was whether liquor stores would be open in Level 4. If I’m staying at home, we wanted to know, can I have a vodka?
In our next searches, we asked about supermarkets and laundromats, then the Level 4 rules in general, followed by the likelihood of wage subsidies and locations of Covid-19 testing stations.
That is a fine encapsulation of our fundamental human desires: booze, food, cleanliness, behavioural requirements, money and health. One might quibble over the order of our priorities, for sure, but we’ve got it all covered.
While everyone else was searching liquor store rules, I was looking for my track pants. This doesn’t make me a better person – I simply had clearer memories than others of how difficult it was to get vodka last time so already knew the answer.
But also I had firm intentions about behaving better this lockdown. Less of the wine and snacks, more of the daily exercise and creative output.
I found the track pants – my old favourites, plus one pair nabbed in a sale during Level 2 and barely worn, so they feel novel – and rifled through my “bought this on holiday as a souvenir” t-shirts, picking out the ones featuring Minnie Mouse to wear initially which kept the first week cheerful.
Also uplifting was reading a lot of very nice emails hoping I was well and keeping safe, sent by retailers whose stores I’d once spent money in and who thought of me as a loyal customer. Oh, and by the way, I could spend more money with them now online, no trouble at all. It was tremendously thoughtful of them.
Sage advice in these strange times is to stick to usual routines like making the bed each morning. Turns out I do these things – the bed making and also the ironing of sheets and tea towels – entirely for my own satisfaction and not for show. I don’t care if you’re coming over or not, the pillow cases will be smooth.
Sometimes you forget no one is coming over. The day we’d planned a couple of family Zooms, I found myself elbow deep in the toilet giving it a good scrub halfway round the S-bend before realising our visitors would be in the living room virtually, and not actually using the facilities.
These chats with family and friends in other countries are helpful for hot tips from lockdown veterans, and a sobering reminder that here we’re not dealing with overwhelmed hospitals and daily death tallies.
I always have a list of chores, but I am learning not to obsessively tick them off one at a time. Instead, I am taking what I think of as the “peck” approach. A little bit of each kind of thing that makes me feel like I’ve achieved something or that brings me joy. So daily there is a light dusting of housework, some business admin, a dive into creative work, a chat with someone in the world outside my bubble, and a fair amount of staring at the cat.
In the quietest of times, I am embroidering a cushion with: “Never do today what might usefully amuse you tomorrow.” Very much enjoying the process so obviously I can’t ever finish it.