So last week was interesting…
I think it’s fair to say that last week was easily the most dramatic of my life. Last Monday, I had been working from home for a few days after a gentle nudge from work to do so – they wanted all their older staff and those of us who are immunocompromised to stay home – but everyone else was in the office still. We had avoided friends over the weekend despite no directions to do so. Hanging out with people just didn’t feel right. That said, we sent Amelie to school on Monday even though it weighed on us that we probably shouldn’t if I was at home. As parents are wont to do, I was putting her needs before my own in trying to maintain her normal life for as long as possible, and justifying it because she goes to a really small school (on reflection this was a silly move but thankfully it doesn’t seem to have had any unfortunate consequences). Last Monday, all my workmates were preparing to work from home for the week so the organisation could test-drive it, but I was still blithely organising a leaving card for someone for that Friday, sure I would be able to swing by and drop it off in her letterbox if nothing else. I don’t know if I was being highly naive or just far too optimistic (my usual setting) but I was certainly being too something because the announcement that afternoon that Covid-19 cases were rising, community transmission couldn’t be ruled out, and therefore New Zealand would be locked down in 48 hours time just. blew. me. away.
And so here we are, one week later, wrapping up our fifth day of lockdown. It feels longer to me because I’ve been avoiding people for about a week more than that, very aware that if I get Covid-19 it’s likely to not be pretty. Now, though, it is so much more than I thought was enough! I have been watching from afar as my friends in the States semi-voluntarily self-isolated themselves, working from home and spending most of their time in their own homes but still getting in runs on the beach, walks in the park, takeout delivery or coffee to-go – all contactless of course – and I guess I had that image in my mind of what lockdown life would be like. Now, of course, it’s very evident that that is not enough and what is probably necessary is what we are doing here…and that is a lot more than I had ever anticipated.
For the next month or so (maybe longer?) everyone in New Zealand is self-isolating in their own homes. People who can work from home can keep working, as long as you don’t leave your house, and if you are an essential service you can keep operating, but other than that our whole country has ground to a complete halt. If you’re out of your house it’s because you’re getting some fresh air or doing something vital, like picking up food from the grocery store or a prescription. If you’re out and you see someone else you have to stay at least two metres away from them. No cafes are open, no restaurants are open. Uber Eats is closed. Schools, daycares, churches, libraries, galleries, museums – all closed. All the shops are closed of course, and online shopping is out because couriers are being used for essential services only. There is definitely no hopping in the car to get a quick run in on the beach – anything but essential travel is out due to the risk of getting hurt and potentially putting emergency services workers at risk. For the same reason, there is no boating, no kayaking, no long-distance road cycling, no surfing, no horseback riding…
This is a long way from what I thought self-isolation would look like! It’s easy to laugh now at what I had envisioned, but a week ago, that didn’t seem so farfetched – in fact, I had spent most of the previous week thinking I was overreacting. Despite the lockdown being so much broader-reaching than what I imagined, I immediately accepted it as necessary. Over the last week, it has also become apparent how terribly affected countries are when they don’t move fast enough or dramatically enough. I’m so grateful that we have a government interested in keeping us all safe, first and foremost, even though that has meant they have had to make extraordinarily hard calls, and make them early.
So that brings us to today, one week after we found out about our imminent lockdown status. It is unbelievable to me that that was only a week ago. Right now I am feeling okay – still in a state of some disbelief, with disrupted sleep and a mind that just. will. not. stop – but every day we get used to this new reality just a touch more.
I have so much more to write! About what we’re doing, how we’re handling the lockdown, how we’re managing both of us working from home at the same time as looking after Amelie, and the giant confusing swirl of emotions around this whole situation…but that will all come in good time (after all, there is literally nothing else that I can write about at the moment!) For now I just wanted to catch you up on the utter oddness of this last week. I also want to know how you are! In lockdown? Or voluntarily self-isolating? Don’t tell me if you’re living like nothing’s happening though because I’m highly uninterested in hearing how you think it’s okay to put others’ lives at risk!
This is a very weird situation and I know every day is different and bizarre. I am keen to hear how it’s affecting you. Remember, if you can your best bet is to stay safe, stay home and be kind!