The UK is slowly reopening: the first children have returned to school, non-essential retail is set to open on 15th June, and some sporting events have already resumed (albeit without a crowd).
I’ve been at home since the end of March – almost 12 weeks now – and I’ve found my temporary new normal. I wake up, eat, read, watch Netflix, eat, read some more, watch some more Netflix, chat to my mum, eat, watch Netflix, read, sleep. It’s mundane and the days are tripping over one another, none of them really fighting very hard to be unique or remembered.
At the beginning of lockdown, writing helped me comprehend the unprecedented stasis life had been thrown into. We were all keen to pick up a new hobby, to make these days distinguishable from one another by baking or making a podcast or writing a novel. I’ve lost the (panicked) momentum I started with, and have reached a level of comfort – of acceptance. I’m no longer in denial or mourning the loss of a predictable, plannable world.
I’m about halfway through what I assume to be my time relegated solely to the house. More so than when we entered lockdown in March, the end is in sight.
But the things I miss the most – the things Timehop tells me I was doing a year ago – still aren’t quite possible: going to dinners, celebrating my birthday out of the house, simply existing with my friends at university.
I downloaded Timehop years ago – along with everyone else – because I like reminiscing on happy days. I look at these old versions of myself, smiling down the camera, and remember everything she was happy about, worried about, thinking about around that time. Looking back on happy, vibrant days makes me more excited to pursue the present – to go on a walk and see something pretty to take a photo of for next year’s me looking back on today.
Sometimes, I’ll see a picture and remember the sadness behind the smile. Those throwbacks are the hardest, both because of the pain I’m remembering and because I wasn’t truly enjoying life before lockdown. It’s illogical – how could I have known? – but there’s always going to be a small part of me that resents my past self for not making the most of the freedoms of the old world.
With Timehop, I can flick through a collation of my photos and social media posts not just from the previous year, but sometimes up to six years ago – when my social media presence trickles into existence and my first iPhone means photos start appearing in the Cloud. So it’s not just year-old smiles, but two-, three-, four-year-old smiles, all appearing in different scenarios and alongside different people.
I look at my hair – it’s longer now… Was it nicer before?
I look at my clothes – that top is nice, I should dig it back out.
However, daily Timehop notifications during lockdown are both a blessing and a curse. I’m reminded of happy days, but I’m also constantly reminded of the things that cannot happen now, and might not ever happen in the same way in the future.
It’s strange: I’m reminiscing on the ‘best years of my life’ before they should even be over. In a way, we’re all reminiscing on a life that we’re not quite sure we’ll ever get back. At least not until we have a vaccine – and maybe not even then.
We’re all growing up a little bit quicker than we expected to, and I’m interested to see what post-lockdown Britain looks like. The pandemic has been a catalyst for many things, and many people are rallying for a more sustainable world on the other side of it. People are being radicalised, and young people are growing into activists. Cracks are being exposed in our political system.
In the same way that lockdown allowed banana bread and Normal People to ripple across the globe in massive waves, so too has lockdown brought unmitigated attention to the Black Lives Matter protests both in the US and across the globe. It’s a global protest for a better world.
The statues that are being pulled down in the UK and the petitions for education reform: would these things have happened amidst the dilution of a normal world? Where change is shouting, but is never quite as loud as the clamour of the rest of the world; would change be occurring at such a rapid rate as it is today?
Reminiscing on the world we’ve lost is painful. Equally, it’s fun to remember the amazing things I did before lockdown. I’m optimistic that – even if it looks a little different – the world will be a better place after Covid-19. It has brought attention to so much injustice – now we just need to respond.