Lockdown. Week 2. Yes, I do sound like a Schalk Bezuidenhout video, but in all honesty, I do feel a bit of his ditziness. It’s been another week, and this week had a long weekend right in the middle, but I’m sure most South Africans didn’t even realise as days now kind of melt together.
Although I’ve been postponing, because I was not yet sure how I felt myself, I did reach out to the 9Lives contributors to see how they’ve been holding up. Just before the long weekend, we had our first virtual photoshoot which was loads of fun and it did leave that desire for more interaction so it was great to hear from everyone.
Probably the biggest thing that has changed since my last check-in is the fact that the lockdown has been extended by two weeks. If you are anything like me, you immediately started counting the number of wine bottles you have left versus the number of days left. Just kidding, but really – does anyone have a good pineapple beer recipe to share?
Lesson #1: Everyone has their off days
In our house, it’s like a rotation. It’s weird, it’s like everyone gives the other their day to freak out. It’s those days where the walls close in, you miss your ‘normal’ life desperately and you want nothing more than to see new people.
I’ve learned that the stupidest thing you can do is compare realities. If you start down the “but-I-am-allowed-more-depression-because-my-life-has-been-altered-more-substantially” way you are going down a dangerous path. It is, of course, easier said than done as you desperately try to navigate your own feelings while at the same time are forced to deal with the feelings of people you love.
Marie resonates this idea by saying that the lockdown has left her feeling both anxious and uneasy, counting the days till she can start rebuilding her life in the post-corona reality, whatever that may be. For now, however, she tries to stay focused on herself, making most of this opportunity for self-care.
Eden is also currently spending time on herself, settling into “the lockdown thing” a bit more. She mentions that she’s created a more positive space around herself by decluttering and cleaning. This is something that is mentioned by nearly everyone, the systematic decluttering of one’s immediate surroundings.
Something that definitely stuck with me and frankly just fascinated me, is something that Angelique mentioned. Amidst the growing negativity from news sources or family members, she uses this time to declutter digitally. She aptly names this ‘starting over’, and has already worked through her Pinterest boards and deleted her entire Apple Music library (eeeep – massive anxiety for me).
Decluttering is also much easier when you lose your attachment to the item, according to Tessa. She’s also been decluttering and has found it easier to let a few things go, especially clothes. Leandra, on the other hand, calls it a restorative process using this time to realign and to decide who she wants to be from this point forward.
Lesson #2: You will get sick of cooking
Hear me out, okay… Imagine walking down Dorp Street to your favourite restaurant. Someone, who is not an immediate family member who expects something in return, arrives to take your drink order. They wait for you to decide. Patiently. You then get to choose what you want to drink, and not what is left over after someone has forgotten to replace the soda cap – or, heaven forbid, a glass of red wine with a name that’s difficult to pronounce.
Thereafter, you are allowed to choose anything on the menu. You don’t have to critically assess which vegetable is at the brink of growing its own little funghi garden in order to make this decision, you can just decide. What everyone else wants is also irrelevant to your choice as you carefully pick out your favourite dish. And then someone brings it to your table, but that is not the best part… afterwards, you don’t need to do a single dish. I repeat, you don’t need to wash a single dish.
Ahh man, what a dream! While in week 1 I was amped to make naan bread and soup and crispy chickpeas, all I want now is to go to a magical world where food appears with no effort from my side, followed by no cleaning afterwards. Actually, I just decided that this is what I want for Christmas this year.
Lucky for me, Tessa shares this sentiment and tells me that she is over snacking. Thank goodness, because some of the other 9Lives members are only now getting into their food groove. Both Angelique and Lojandri have reported baking more, with banana bread being a firm favourite. Liezel has also been sharing her bread baking journey on our Instagram feed.
Lesson #3: Some bad habits will be amplified
In my family, I’m notorious for being bad at two things: answering my phone and replying to texts. I’ve hated talking on the phone for as long as I can remember, but the text thing came about a few years ago when more and more clients started moving their communication to WhatsApp. There is nothing I detest more than answering WhatsApps all day, just to go home and answer another load of personal messages. And it’s not like I consciously choose not to answer, I promise, I just have this I’ll-reply-in-a-second mindset which often just turns into a month.
In lockdown, of course, there is no hiding. What else do I have to do than answer a text? Still, I find myself forgetting to reply or putting it off for days on end. I’ve always blamed it on being too busy, or travelling or being caught up in work, but none of those excuses count anymore, so what now?
Another bad habit that gets quite out of hand, which I’ve picked up among several 9Lives team members, is the screen time issue. Leandra has been changing her routine to stick to her desk and screen between 8 am and 5 pm and to then thereafter go out to do gardening or to read.
Nina, too, has also been spending more time reading and listening to audiobooks, while allowing herself some ‘downtime’. And this is something I’ve also struggled with; if there is nothing else to do I might as well work, right? Well, no, that is a very bad habit, you need to award yourself some downtime. Because Nina has used this time, this downtime, to explore more books and series and tutorials, her creativity has been sparked and her productivity, or motivation to be productive, has increased.
Lesson #4: It’s a grieving process
Right before the lockdown began, I was thinking about thinking. I can’t remember exactly what Daniel and I spoke about to spark this thought, but it came down to the fact that once you start your adult life in all earnest you are never again gifted the chance to think again. Think about what, you ask? Life, about what it means to live, about what you’ve experienced, the stuff you had to go through and the way forward.
I mean, you skim past it, forced to make choices to keep alive, to keep things going but never did I think I was going to be able to sit down and just think again- about everything and nothing in particular. But here I am and I’ve been getting, the best way to describe it, flashback attacks.
I’ve been plagued by memories of our trip to the US last year, of people I’ve forgotten about and things that are always at the back of mind – purposefully kept at arm’s length so as to not interfere with my daily routine. It’s like everything you’ve never processed is coming back to tease with you in this bizarre time.
Right at the start of the lockdown there was this article in the Harvard Business Review on how their team sat around the table realising that this quarantined feeling they’re trying to describe to each other is actually grief. Grief at a loss of normalcy, for the life they’ve spent years building, for their relationships and future plans and expectations. Piled onto that is the fear and anxiety and uncertainty that we’ve come to associate with 2020.
While I found myself one morning crying over my coffee because of not only my wedding and honeymoon that didn’t happen but also the start of our lives that didn’t happen, I realised that it is indeed a grieving process, a worldwide one that’s only now beginning.
Nina, in a paragraph that touched me in such a profound way, explained her loss of physical touch and the consequence thereof; “I’ve realised that I very rarely hug my parents and I didn’t know I was craving physical touch until I bumped into my mom in the hallway by accident. I am now making a point of it to hug them at least once every two days – I know it’s frowned upon but there really is no way I can go 5 weeks without personal touch. Before lockdown, I didn’t consider myself to be a very affectionate person but this was definitely something I learned during this period. And if my parents are finding it odd, then my dogs are definitely perplexed by my sudden personal attention.”
In the same sense, Eden describes laying off Tinder in the second week, realising that she no longer had a need to fill the social void. She did go on her first virtual date, which sounds so fricken cute, and which she describes as weird at first, but a great laugh in the end.
“I’m allowing myself to feel,” Marie tells me and I guess that’s the main lesson of this week. To go through the motions – good and bad and scary and larger than life – to take on week 3.