I hope that, one day, this will all seem like the distant past. I hope that when someone says the words “pandemic” or “lockdown” I don’t zone out into a black hole of disconnection. Ideally, when someone brings up the coronavirus lockdowns at some point in the future, I will laugh and go, “Oh my god, ha ha! Wasn’t it so weird??’
That said, we’ll be surrounded by potential lockdown triggers for a long time, because they’ll be everywhere. They exist in the simple, silly little things we’ve done to while away the hours (and hours and hours and fucking hours). Running! Sourdough bread! Having a weekend in!
We all collectively did a lot of these things together, and tried to act like they were lovely things to do. Maybe we even enjoyed them, on occasion. But it’s time for them all to go, forever. These are all the things we’ll never even consider doing again after lockdown.
1. WATERING A PLANT
Nothing you’ve been doing to those plants this past year has been helping. The leaves are brown and curled and limp. You can’t even water a plant right. So give up on the devil’s ivy, abandon the fucking money plant: you’re no longer a plant mum or dad. Take the leaf emoji out of your Instagram bio, get ready to enact some deforestation on your IG grid. In this new old world, there’s no room for being a plant shagger. You bought some plants because you were sad and your rented shared flat is ugly. Next!
Never again in my life will I stand over my godforsaken stove lovingly stirring a pot of something to do with tomatoes. I will never say, “Oh you know what, cooking is actually amazing and really meditative. Really special to get some me time.” I will never flick through cookbooks looking for a creative way to use celeriac ever again. I am just not doing it. The only eating I’ll ever be embarking on, as soon as we are set free, will be at the 6PM-7PM Itsu sale, on the way to the pub. I won’t even enjoy it that much. I just refuse to cook. I never want to look at another beetroot. I’m cooked out.
3. ‘GOING FOR A WALK’
Sure, there were days when you strolled around the block to get in your 4,000 steps, when you thought, ‘I’m sort of like a modern flaneur! Maybe all this walking is good for my mental health, my soul!’ But there’s absolutely no chance you’ll look back on these crap walks with no view, no fun and no company as a good or nice time. From here on out, we strap ourselves into the full-frontal hedonism of normal life: we never “walk”, we ride polluting cars, public transport and Ubers, and we only leave the house with the specific purpose of having a laugh.
“Sorry, you’ve frozen... yeah. Haha, oh... yeah, it’s done it again, sorry. Can you hear me? Oh fuck, I’m on mute. Sorry, you’ve frozen again. Do you want to just leave the meeting and come back? Yeah. OK, wait there.”
And around and around we have gone for the last year, speaking into our laptops, staring at our own faces until they become unrecognisable piles of mush with eyes and we no longer recognise ourselves. Of course, Zoom is “here to stay”, much like face masks and the collective mental trauma we’ll probably only get to grips with a decade from now, but I am looking forward to a day where my only option for talking to a group of mates isn’t a dodgy connection facilitated by a phone hotspot.
5. ORDERING A TAKEAWAY
As someone who, in the manner of a dog, is extremely motivated by food, in the first lockdown I looked forward to having a takeaway at the weekend. “It’s just nice to have something you’ve not cooked yourself,” I would smile pathetically over the top of my burger at my flatmate and boyfriend, staring at them like that character in Portlandia, trying to convince us all that Everything Was Fine.
Even during the second lockdown, I still enjoyed relaxing on a Friday or Saturday with something I wouldn’t have been able to make myself. But not even the thought of a pizza moves me this third lockdown. I have done “having pizza”. I have surpassed the need for “pizza”. The Domino’s delivery tracker does nothing to animate my stony visage (something I previously thought impossible). I think this is because, to be honest, in my mind now, takeaway just equals lockdown, just equals feeling vaguely agitated as a baseline and realising that I ordered a blackhead extractor from eBay two days after the fact. It’s not fun anymore.
6. DAILY EXERCISE
The only government sanctioned exercise I’ll be doing is walking from one pub to the next!!!!
7. WEARING ELASTICATED WAISTBANDS
Some of the entries I have written here have been facetious jokes (of course I am going to cook again at some point, I am not Henry VIII), but this one I actually mean. As someone who enjoys putting together a little outfit now and again, my demise into “only wearing leggings and tracksuit bottoms, also occasionally this one pair of dungarees” over the last four months in particular has been crushing. As soon as we are allowed out, I solemnly swear that I will only be wearing the most uncomfortable and most glamorous of garments. I will give you puff sleeves, tulle, satin, shiny vinyl, floaty gingham, matching shoes and handbags, huge collars, big wide legs and some kind of statement boot. This is not a threat, it is a promise.
8. READING A BOOK
Cute that you got a little Goodreads account in lockdown one. Adorable that you read a whole four novels in lockdown two. Absolutely darling that you now have a book club with a couple of uni mates, started listening to women-hosted podcasts called things like Booklust and Pagesniffers and have some opinions on form and privilege. You loved books as kid, loved nothing more than entering someone else’s world for an afternoon! That ends now. Grow up.
9. THE INTERNET
You did the right thing during the global pandemic. You stayed on Twitter, scrolling and scrolling, watching and sometimes engaging in the takes. You numbed yourself to your lived reality – shite WFH job, shite flat, shite flatmates or other half – with written and visual short-form content. That’s what the platform is for, after all: wasting time, wasting your life. But now it’s time to never log on again. You’re not missing anything; you know this deeply. If, for some sick reason, you’re reading this right as lockdown is about to end: why? No reading things on the internet anymore. Just close your browser now. Close it. Goodbye.