As we begin the month of April, it’s hard not to recognise how remarkably different life was exactly one year ago, to this very day. In April of 2019, we embarked upon a month long road trip of America with a 5 month old baby. We had a rough plan and a few definite places and friends we wanted to visit, but other than that we had the liberty of taking each day as it comes. The freedom to roam across borders unchallenged. The freedom to fulfil our travelling desires. The freedom to drive and explore, meet up with friends.
The complete opposite to now, where we’ve been confined within the same four walls. Helpless to do anything other than remain indoors. Holidays cancelled. London marathon cancelled. Grandma Sue visiting from New Zealand cancelled. Shopping. Running. Socialising. Everything we have come to take for granted, gone. And it all happened so fast.
I love travelling and our American road trip was a dream come true. Individually and as a couple, we are both experienced travelers, but doing it with our five month son, was truly epic. We met in America, have really good friends there and are working towards living there in the next few years. So watching the news and seeing NYC presented as the American epicenter is heartbreaking.
It feels like only yesterday we were at the top of the Empire State Building. Introducing my son, to my friends son (they were born within 10 days of each other). Walking around the summer camp where we first met, five years ago. Seeing the White House and thinking it looks a lot smaller in real life than on the TV! Sailing underneath the golden gate bridge or feeding George in a park in Seattle.
No one could have predicted that the entire world would ‘shut down’ for a while. There are so many things that are terrifying about the current situation that, I simply have to shut it out and avoid the media as it is having such a detrimental impact on my mental health. One of the scariest things is not knowing whether all those things that we love and take for granted, travel, eating out, the cinema, will be there waiting for us when this is over.
Will we be able to travel with the same carefree attitude as before? Should we be more vigilant regardless? Are people going to judge us for travelling with a child and potentially exposing them to danger?
When you have nothing but time, your mind wanders. Our calendar hangs in the living room and I look up at it every time I am working from the dining room table. Seeing those photographs of my American friends reminds me that this isn’t just affecting me, or the UK. This is affecting millions of people around the world, families, businesses, workers. They must be feeling the same emotions of worry, uncertainty, shock and surprise.
The last two weeks have flown by, luckily I have a toddler to keep me on my toes. But there have been times, when I’ve seen my neighbour or friend through the window and waved enthusiastically. Felt the pang when George runs to them with open arms and I have to pick him up to prevent him from breaking the 2 metre social distancing rule. Try to soothe my son when he doesn’t understand why he can’t go for a walk.
Who would have thought that going for a walk could really hurt someone?
There is so much negative stuff in the media slating young people for being ignorant to the world around them, contributing to the plastic crisis by being too consumer driven or being obsessed with technology. Yet, I have come to see that I also take many things for granted and perhaps when we emerge from this Covid_19 crisis, I need to look at my footprint in society, on the world and make some changes.
I take for granted my friends and family. I take for granted shopping, food, being financially secure through my job, running, my son’s day care. And I should know better. Having travelled to less developed countries I have witnessed first-hand genuine struggles and, the happiness of some families who have nothing to their name other than each other. But when you’re back in the ‘real world’ we are so busy with work, life and family that there isn’t really time to think of anything outside what you have to do that same day.
I need to build bridges with some people and burn some with others. I owe an apology to my Mum and can make more of an effort to get back to people when they message me. I should reach out to my friends at home and abroad more often because, they might not be around tomorrow.
Now there is time. Contemplate what or who you truly value in your life. What can you live without? What have you learnt about yourself? Because ultimately life is too short. Covid 19 has shone a massive spotlight on that fact. Is there somewhere you always wanted to visit but never found time? This experience so far has been challenging but I am determined to embrace those people I love and find time to invest in friendships in the future.
How quickly can things can change?