The New Normal Is Recurring Lockdowns Where I Live
I am idiot.
Twelve months ago I said on social media that the pandemic was coming to an end. Looking back, obviously, I was totally wrong. Being wrong helps me sleep at night.
I live in Melbourne, Australia. We’re back in lockdown due to the India variant of covid escaping hotel quarantine. I tried to remember how many times I’ve come in and out of lockdown. I can’t actually tell you. It’s more than three times for those of you keeping score in your comfy couch chairs at home.
My experience with yet another lockdown will help you deal with your own recurring nightmare.
American envy is real right now
Australian tv screens are lit brightly, as always, by American stories. I watch late-night tv and see all the live audiences returning to James Cordon’s or Jimmy Fallon’s show. I talk to my American friends who are back watching films at the cinema and getting into their gas-guzzling trucks and driving down endless freeways without a care in the world.
I can’t help but be envious of America.
I also can’t help but wonder if the India variant could change the situation yet again for the U.S. and cause similar devastation to what Australia is facing. My hope is the new normal stays normal for America. I need a country to look up to while lockdown continues in Melbourne.
When you’re experiencing a nightmare that starts to feel like the daily grind, seeing another part of the world doing better than yours gives you hope. Hope is a powerful drug to combat a nightmare.
Politics is the real nightmare
As soon as an invisible virus causes havoc again, politicians in Australia start waging war against each other instead of working together. The same happens in America.
The blame game doesn’t solve the pandemic. What we need in Australia is the vaccine to be rolled out quicker than at the rate the snails in charge are currently allowing nurses to jab arms with the solution.
Lockdowns are our solution in Australia. Rightly or wrongly it’s the only way we’ve been able to reign in the virus when it gets out of control. In other parts of the world lockdowns haven’t been as successful.
But in Australia, we’re a compliant bunch that is happy to be herded back into our houses when an enemy greater than us infiltrates the community. There have been a few small protests, but generally the Twitter influencers shout at them through their smartphones and they get the message and go home.
Blame is a losing game.
Look at the real victims to keep moving forward
My work can be done from home. Lockdown is a nightmare but it’s nowhere near as bad as the nightmare others are experiencing.
I went on my covid-approved walk yesterday for the maximum allowable time of two hours wearing an N95 mask. As I walked the streets it looked like the days after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
There were humans, but they weren’t the same humans. They were afraid. They were wearing masks, hiding their humanity. Social distancing wasn’t enough to make them feel safe. Walking past a stranger equated to walking on the road to stay off the footpath where the danger was perceived to be the highest.
The real victims are the business owners. Operating their business is unlawful for most of them. Walking past so many shops that have already faced many lockdowns before, and knowing many won’t survive, gives you perspective on what a virus can do beyond its medical effects.
There’s a health crisis but many are oblivious to the potential financial crisis that could follow. Economies are not made to be turned on and off like a light switch. Capitalism doesn’t have a covid backup plan.
Family takes on a whole new meaning
When you can see your family whenever you want, often, you don’t take advantage of the opportunity. But when you’re forced apart from your family because of lockdowns, suddenly you miss them more than before.
It’s an odd feeling. A family member has been really sick. I want to be there for them and can’t. They have covid symptoms but refuse to get a covid test — no matter how many times you try and woo them towards the light and make them understand that tests keep them safe as well as the rest of the community safe.
Selfishness in a pandemic has after-effects that extend beyond any individual.
All you can do is wait for fo the lockdown to be over and drive to see your family as fast as you can while obeying the speed limit. I never thought I’d see a day where seeing my family became unlawful. And I never thought the law on seeing my family would change so many times in a year. Such is life in a pandemic where uncertainty runs a nation.
Consistent exposure to chaos lessens your fear
I’ve become numb to chaos.
When the announcement of another lockdown came, it didn’t impact me the same way as the first time it happened in March of 2020. I’m now a fully prepared pandemic-er.
I have a garage full of supplies. Enough N95 masks to protect an entire staff of hospital workers. Liters of hand sanitizer that will drop in value when I go to sell the remainder on eBay at the end of the invisible war. A pantry full of canned food to last three nuclear wars. And enough corn chips to endure every season of “Friends” if my fiancé forces me to watch them (god help me).
The chaos is present although my mind can’t feel it anymore. The pandemic normal is how I live my life now. It’s an inconvenience and a way of life. You learn to work around the virus instead of fear the virus. The real virus becomes your thoughts. If they get too negative from all the bad news, you become susceptible. If you can find a way to see a future without covid chaos, then you manage to live through it.
I see America’s present as my potential future. America gives me hope which feels odd to say based on the last years worth of events.
This crisis is far from over here in Australia. Covid remains a nightmare that interrupts our sleep each night.
I am quietly waiting in my student apartment by the train line, where the train barely runs anymore because there are no passengers, for my position in the long queue of people waiting for the vaccine.
We have a vaccine. The rollout has been slow. We hope someone finds a way to administer the vaccine faster to those like me who are literally dying to feel what normal looks like again. Until then, the nightmare of an invisible virus that forces us into lockdown over and over, continues. The nightmare has become our day-to-day lives.
Will the virus mutate faster than we can administer the vaccine? Who knows. I’m not a doctor. I’m full of hope. It’s worked so far, but it’s exhausting.
Perhaps we’ll be mentally stronger after the vaccine helps to lift the enormous burden placed on many countries.