Despite all the online shopping I’ve been doing since the pandemic started, I made my stupidest purchase of the year way back in January. It was a yearly planner. A snazzy leather-bound one and everything. As I type this story from my dining table – sorry, my desk – I just need to look over my shoulder to peep that yearly planner. It’s on my shelf covered in a thick film of dust. This year hasn’t exactly been subtle on the symbolism front.
My housemate went back to his folks’ place in the country when lockdowns returned in July. I don’t blame him – I was going to do the same thing, before the borders between Victoria and New South Wales shut for the first time in over a 100 years. Bummer. I was going to have to do Lockdown 2.0 on my own, in our teeny apartment.
“This will be fine,” I told myself. “You’ve been locked down before, this will be a piece of cake.”
It was not fine. It was not a piece of cake.
This wasn’t my first isolation rodeo; my previous lockdown experience had to count for something, right? Wrong. There were a few days of initial adrenaline, but before long the inexorable humdrum of my lonely new inside life set in.
I was naked – like, a lot – at the start of Lockdown 2.0. Not in a naughty way, more in a sophisticated European because-I-can way. And when you have to keep finding ways to entertain yourself, doing chores and other household tasks in the rudie nudie gets you at least three days of distraction, guaranteed. (But do not cook in the buff. I cannot stress this enough. Repeat: no nakey bakey, not worth it.)
Thankfully – and much to the relief of the old lady in apartment 10, whose kitchen looks into my living room – this lockdown has been a mostly wintry affair. So I got over my nudist phase, and started to focus on the opposite of disrobing: getting dressed with as much panache as possible.
I decided to take a photo of myself in a different outfit and position for every day of lockdown. This would accomplish two things: firstly, it would let me explore the deepest depths of my wardrobe (I’m a classic outfit repeater). Secondly, it would be a reason to get out of my dressing gown and ugg boots, which had become the lockdown equivalent of a safety blanket for me.
Sometimes these outfits were inspired by classic movies (I’ve been watching a lot of the big boys of cinema history this lockdown). Risky Business was an obvious choice. Mostly though, I’d just pap snaps in the weirdest places I could think of: the fridge, the cupboard under the sink and the dirty clothes basket were all fair game. A stop-motion video of the 67-photo project (I gave up on September 13) would show you the fast-forwarded transformation of a rosy-cheeked, oh-so-innocent boy into a bags-under-his eyes and slightly manic man in major need of a haircut.
“At the very least,” I remember thinking, “you’ll come out of this with some good photos for the dating apps.” That was very wrong. They aren’t good photos. I have no idea what I was thinking.
And speaking of dating, let’s talk about how crook and unfair Lockdown 2.0 was on singles. Although we now have singles bubbles, which are great, I had to go over nine weeks without being able to see someone in a meaningful way. My sin? I wasn’t bonking anyone when lockdowns were reinstituted. I have friends in share houses where every housemate is in a relationship, and they’ve been able to see so many people that it’s hard not to feel singled out (pun absolutely intended). I already have parents, I really didn’t need the government to make me feel bad about being single too.
Life takes on a different emotional timbre when you’re locked down alone. My feelings are all out of whack. Sometimes I get told bad news and I don’t feel a thing, other times a beam of sunlight hits my only house plant in a really pretty way and I burst into tears. I’m pretty sure it’s not about the plant.
I once spent an entire afternoon building a pillow fort in my living room. It started harmlessly, with a mattress dragged out from my bedroom. Then clothes horses, ottomans and coat racks were seconded; I draped every sheet and blanket I could find over them. Pretty soon I had a workable sheet ceiling. Next thing I knew, the Bedouin tent in my living room even had lighting.
I slept in that thing for over a week. No joke. I had to angle my laptop away during work video calls so that colleagues wouldn’t see the enormous pillow fort that was taking up two thirds of my living room. I can highly recommend having an old-school sleepover at your own house. Just don’t try having a pillow fight with yourself like I did. It gets sad. Fast.
There’s a lot of finger-pointing happening right now about why we’re in this mess. That’s fair enough. But all I’ll say is this: talking about politics during this lockdown is a bit like screaming the word “bomb” at an airport – I have no plans to do it.
We’ve all had plans cancelled, holidays rainchecked and milestones missed this year. And if we’re lucky, that’ll be it. A lot of people are going through hell right now; I’m trying not to forget it. But being totally alone for this lockdown has been more challenging than I ever could have imagined.
It was a sunny early spring day yesterday, and the temperature was higher than the daily case numbers for the first time in forever. I met up with a friend in the park, and we sat down, kicked our shoes off and drank a few beers together. This isn’t over yet, but god it feels like we’re turning a corner doesn’t it? So I’m buying another yearly planner, for 2021 this time. Because you never know.