After Lockdown: Still Adjusting
Holly Peters, Plymouth’s Young City Laureate
The first diary entry I wrote was called Adjusting. Adjusting to changes that just seven months ago were hard to ever imagine. It was all new, scary, almost apocalyptic. It feels so long ago. The way time knots and stretches, tangles in and over itself.
But how have we adjusted? Settling into the past tense while keeping a firm eye on the future as it quickly morphs into the present.
There are things I notice that strike me, like walking past schools as parents wait to pick up their children claiming their own segments of the pavement like words spaced across a page. Or the colourful assortment of masks as the sea of people flow across the mall in a clockwise direction. Headlines that surely should be false, except prove not to be.
“Have you scanned the QR code?” Track and Trace.
“I’ve emailed you the Zoom password.” University welcome lecture. Stuttering over poor connection and hoping the internet keeps up. Working it out as we go.
“There were this many cases in the UK today,” says mum in the middle of a film. The second wave picking up speed.
“The rule of six.” My unlucky number. The month my little brother was born in. The highest number of a dice. Is it still a perfect number?
I started writing these entries as we were adjusting to the empty streets, empty shelves in supermarkets, the empty days. Daily broadcasts and a series of graphs that begged to avoid all of this. I started writing these during a time of uncertainty and a threateningly calm kind of chaos.
I write this final entry during a similar time. During a new normal where reality resumed but the virus didn’t disappear. The television, the radio, the papers, conversations in the street – they throw blame around hoping there will be somewhere it can stick. Speculation. As we stumble through days and weeks waiting to fall. To fall into another lockdown.
I reread the words I wrote in April. The ones about the first address from the Prime Minister where a national lockdown was announced.
Only days ago, the Prime Minister addressed the nation again, the same wilting flag in the background, the same tired eyes. A curfew. Working from home. Desperate to keep the normality as much as we can to fight the loneliness and isolation.
We still haven’t escaped that uncertainty or the threateningly calm kind of chaos.
Autumn draws in, October creeping up on us. The sounds of crunching leaves beneath our feet and raindrops bouncing off the roof of cars. Sending the summer clothes to the back of the wardrobe.
The summer slipping away with a sigh. If you look back, you’ll see blank gaps where memories were supposed to be. A summer of simplistic adventures, finding new ways to pass the time. A summer of history and distance.
Autumn promises its own challenges: colder weather, darker nights. It reminds us that winter is on its way, but then again, so is the spring.
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Receiving GCSE results, a socially distanced visit to the City Centre and preparations for the return to schoolread more