Drawing back the curtains exposes the familiar view of the coast I call home. Blue upon blue, where the sky meets the sea. The stillness of the uninhabited caravans is eerie: deserted apart from the feathered dwellers on the hunt for a meal. I would use the cliché, ‘I could never get tired of this view’, but that would be a lie.
I am tired of it being the only view. I yearn for a change in scenery. A walk in a forest surrounded by the soothing chirp of the birds. The smell of fresh dough cooking in an Italian restaurant—my favourite cuisine. Visiting friends and family miles away in my hometown of Manchester; how I long to travel again.
I pick up my phone and, as per usual when I wake, aimlessly scroll through endless Facebook and Instagram posts. A notification pops up from the News app: The government’s ‘roadmap’ for stages to ultimately end the third and final lockdown in the UK. The feeling of hope stirs in the pit of my stomach. Could life be somewhat normal again by summer? It seems too good to be true now, but the more vaccinated people, the more attainable it becomes.
As I walk downstairs to pour myself a brew, I create a to-do list for today in my mind. I need to keep myself busy. However, as soon as I sit down on the couch and take the first sip of my tea, all my motivation falters. I close my eyes and let my head fall back to rest on the couch. The tears involuntarily well up in my eyes as the anxious thoughts swirl around my mind. There are still a few months more to endure of this. I need to get some fresh air… no, I’ve got things to do before I can consider a walk. I take a deep breath and compose myself; this is a daily occurrence.
Before I know it, it’s midday. I think about how little I have done of my imaginary list; I always seem to get distracted (a ‘quick’ check of my social media notifications inevitably becomes forty-five minutes of scrolling). This turns into disappointment and I get the determination to get it done, or risk feeling worse. Slowly but surely, I tick off the tasks, then make myself a hot chocolate as a small reward. A hug in a mug they say—I agree.
My Labrador, Frankie, joins me on the couch, her ginger coat as soft as a blanket. She snuggles into me as I check through university emails and my upcoming seminar material. No matter how difficult the day has been, the wagging tail, the unsolicited face licks and the couch cuddles provide a source of comfort from the madness of the world outside. I watch as her eyes close, the steady rise and fall of her body synonymous with peaceful slumber, and I am truly grateful.
It is the little things that have become the most important throughout the pandemic: catch-ups with friends and family over FaceTime or Zoom, dog walks to the beach, boardgame nights and reading—just to name a few. It helps to provide some relief whilst we crave the return of normality. However, it also makes you realise what we took for granted. I was never much of a hugger; now I relish the thought of a bear-hug from my nearest and dearest.
One day, social distancing, self-isolating and compulsory mask-wearing will be a thing of the past. It will be a story to tell all the grandchildren, and as we tell them, we will smile knowing that we never took these things for granted ever again.