The beginning of this year is a blur. I was in the game reserve, heard about an imminent lockdown, had to make a few quick and insane decisions, then found myself at home with my son back from Cape Town, locked in and up, walking figure eights on the patio.
It’s been a hard year. We all thought the lockdown would be a couple of weeks, the pandemic would end, we’d hang out in bars, get back to Friday coffee with the girls, go to my ex-husband’s wedding, travel, explore, work, love and live.
This year has changed all of us.
Some of the things that stand out for me:-
How many things you can see when you walk figure eights on the patio. I knew exactly how many butterflies there were and how quickly granadillas grew, while appreciating the moon, stars and beauty of the night skies, the whole world still, silent, waiting.
Sometimes I did yoga twice a day. It was mad but the classes impacted me so much, not just the practice but the words used and kindness shown; words that still impact today.
Now I do yoga twice a week and it’s enough.
I feel more in control these days.
I learned how to talk on the phone again. Weird, I know, but suddenly I enjoy ACTUAL PHONE CALLS. What the fuck and how did that happen, Covid-19!
Carpenter bees burrowed into my rafters and we got to know each other. They’re still there and every time I go outside, or someone comes over, they come out to say hi.
I love them, I hope they stay forever.
My neighbours were amazing, passing delicious treats over the wall almost daily. I would wake up to the smell of home baked goods, be it custard tarts, croissants or Bulkas. Honestly, I gave them a Bulka recipe and they made some for me.
I am so sad they’ve gone through a break up, also so glad I am around to support them.
It wasn’t just my neighbours. People in my hood shared needles and thread, home grown veg and sourdough starters. I thought I too could make sourdough but my starter grew live things, INSECTS, and I had to throw it away.
Gotta say I panicked like crazy this time round when I thought we might go back to lockdown and through the whole home made bread thing again. HELP, anything but bread, please, anything…
Melville’s heroism came in the form of a food volunteer program that fed thousands of people from all around Johannesburg, and still do. Also, all the individuals leaving food outside their houses every day. I did the same, only taking offence once when nobody wanted the soup I’d made.
I hustled a bit. I had a few good connections in the hospitality industry and toyed with the idea of selling alcohol but after a few deals and dodgy encounters, stopped quickly. I learned I like the idea of doing illicit stuff but am in fact not very good at it. I do however have great respect for the car guards who went from guarding cars to selling cigarettes and now they’re back to guarding cars.
My favourite moment was when I saw they had a new chair on their corner.
It’s gone now.
When we could go outside again, I marvelled at how much joy we all took in walking, drifting without destination, new sights to see, new flowers to admire, new people to say hello to. Kids, dogs, everyone. It was pretty cool and the streets are still quite busy with walkers and I like it.
It has been incredibly sad seeing restaurants close and open and close for good, some still standing empty. Many people lost everything and that’s been heartbreaking. Our neighbourhood has changed but I am also learning that things come back.
They just come back differently.
I often wonder what my mom would have made of this all. She would have carried on playing bridge, that’s for sure. And eating Quality Street chocolates. My dad has been confused and bemused and it’s been hard not being able to see him properly.
Once I told him I miss him and he told me he misses the Hypermarket.
I have so much respect for his caregivers.
My travel work pretty much ended but freelance writing projects arrived. In the future, I hope to continue doing both.
I gave away all my high heels thinking I’ll never wear them again, also lots of frocks. That was a bad decision and I have HUGE REGRET, excuse me but if you have my shoes or dresses bring them back immediately, it was a moment of pandemic madness.
When lockdown levels changed and we could travel again, I went to and from Cape Town a bit. I had an outdoor dinner with Marc and something fell on his head and he panicked, then something fell on my head and I panicked, until we realised we were sitting under a mulberry tree.
Lockdown outdoor dining has its benefits.
On the very day before lockdown I saw a white bunny in the road. It was ominous, eerie. The other night I was driving and a peacock blocked my path. This time around, it was something beautiful. I don’t know what it all meant. Nature was returning. Nature never went away.
Maybe they both escaped from the zoo.
My dogs have never been happier to have me at home. Fred does panic every time I take my suitcase out but guess what Fred – next time I take it out, you’re coming with me!
I made a few online purchases the worst one being a bathmat that takes FIVE FULL DAYS IN THE SUN to dry. If I could remember where I bought it, I would send it back.
But I have a terrible memory these days.
My older son worked at Bara for the year and had a year of extreme hard work, difficulty, emotion, fear and overall, a really meaningful and intense experience. He is a good doctor and I am so damn proud of him. My younger son finished his degree at home and he too is amazing and when I suggested he try get a job at Man United he looked at me like I was MAD, but maybe he will.
Any Man U supporters with connections out there? Oy, he’s going to kill me.
Meantime I followed Doug Coltard’s socks on Twitter, spent a lot of time on social media and watched a ton of Netflix. Hit me up if you need recommendations, I can tell you Hollywood Housewives is terrible but the Crown is brilliant, and if you need to watch illegal movies on Popcorn, I’m your girl.
My greatest achievement is that I never once wore leggings and know the words to all the new Fiona Apple songs off by heart.
I hope next year is different.
I feel for every single person who has lost work, is worried and confused and struggling to put food on the table. In South Africa, there are many.
I also learned to wash my fruit before eating it and almost every day I text my boyfriend with a message, kind of like:-
‘I WASHED MY APPLE.’
We have taught each other a few good things.
I do miss airport bars, hugging my friends, taking my dad to Dischem, walking without a mask and not feeling anxious.
On the other hand, I appreciate each and every connection I have made over this time, every bit of support, love and how we really did come together in unity.
BLESSINGS, TO ALL OF YOU, AND TO A NEW, STRONG, HEALTHY, MEANINGFUL YEAR.