Waiting Under the Same Sky: A Brief Reflection on Lockdown Life

Jul 6, 2020

Health & Lifestyle | Chloe Harvey

It’s been three months since lockdown was announced here in the UK. That’s around 7,884,008 seconds - and counting. Over 7 million seconds since we last popped to the shops without feeling guilty about it, or went for a casual drink with our mates, or gave something like maskne a second thought. They say time flies when you’re having fun, but do they talk about how every second feels like an eternity when you’re living through a global pandemic?

As it stands, I’ve spent a lot of time looking out of my window. What else is there to do when the world has been shut off for a quarter of a year. I’ve often found myself sat in the garden, night and day, watching the clouds and waiting for the world to start turning again.

Around April, it occurred to me that a lot of us are doing the same thing: watching and waiting for life to begin again. For many, one of the most difficult parts of quarantine has been the indescribable physical distance between loved ones. Distances that could once be bridged by car and train are now clouded with uneasiness. Not knowing when I was going to see so many of my friends again, I asked them to send me photographs of their waiting spots.

As the first weeks of quarantine creeped by, it was hard to remember that a planet existed outside my front door. This alienating experience can be attributed, in part, to a phenomenon called ‘Zoom fatigue.’ It’s a sort of emotional exhaustion that can occur when we use programs like Skype and Zoom to keep in touch. Speaking to my own friends, it was clear that phone calls don’t quite fill the physical gap we’ve left in each other’s lives. Looking at these photographs grounded me, reminding me that my loved ones where still out there somewhere.

A few of these images were captured at workplaces. I’m reminded of those I know who’ve tirelessly toiled away as keyworkers: carers and teachers, NHS workers and retail staff. These roles and numerous others are stressful enough under normal circumstances. I think a special thanks (and then some) is owed to everybody who fills a keyworker role.

Whilst we’ve all been longing for a return to normality, it turns out life happened anyway. The photographs also remind me that love and loss, grief and joy, have lived alongside us in lockdown. This intermingling of grief and joy can be seen on a global scale, where important protests for the Black Lives Matter movement as well as pride celebrations marched on - the latter often finding a new home online.

As millions watch an uncertain world from their phones, the sentiment that ‘things should not go back to normal’ has rippled across social media. Where issues of inequality and the environment are concerned, there exists an urgency to enter a post-pandemic planet that strives for meaningful change.

As I look at these photographs now, I’m reminded that the sun has almost set on lockdown as we know it. July 4th, restrictions in England have been lifted even further. Pubs, cafes, cinemas, and many more businesses will once again open their doors. Whilst it’s all too tempting to follow the smell of coffee beans, we’re reminded things aren’t 100% virus free out there just yet. That requires a little more waiting.

No one’s quite sure how the world will remember the pandemic of 2020. At first, it might seem like the right thing to do is to try and forget every last drawn-out moment. Thinking again, though, I hope to remember everything - both good and bad - that happened whilst waiting under the same sky.

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