Emerging from lockdown
After 112 days of lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, the city has finally opened up. Shops, cafes and restaurants are now fully open. Hairdressers, beauty salons and massage services can finally operate. It has been very exciting to finally go to the shops, to eat lunch in a café and go out for dinner in a restaurant and even have a drink at a bar. It feels weird but also strangely familiar.
We do not have full freedom yet though. We are still restricted to a 25km radius and must wear masks at all times, unless we are eating and drinking. However, further freedoms will soon be available. As of 8 November, we can travel anywhere within Victoria and gyms and fitness centres can finally open.
I have been waiting for this news for a long time and can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, quite unexpectedly, I have been feeling overwhelmed and not quite ready for this “new normal” life.
During lockdown, I had gotten into a routine — work from home, exercise at home and eat all meals at home. The only travel I did was to walk around the block and go to my partner’s place. The most exciting thing I would do, is go for my weekly grocery shop near my flat. Yes sad but true.
My entire social life consisted of my boyfriend (if you don’t count numerous phone and video calls with friends). Life was boring but uncomplicated and easy. I could sleep in and start work in my pyjamas. I did not need to dress up or wear make up. Active wear was my uniform. Although I lived within the confines of a lockdown, I had a wonderful sense of freedom within the four walls of my flat and the 5km radius around my place. I could run the day as I liked, rather than be restricted by the demands of the office during workdays in the past.
The new normal
Melbourne opened up on Wednesday this week and it really feels like everyone is out. It feels weird to see crowds of people hitting the shops, cafes and restaurants, parks and beaches. It feels like the city has come alive again, no longer the ghost town it had been for over three months.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very relieved to finally have some freedom again — to go clothes shopping again and have my latte while sitting in a café but this freedom comes at a cost — it means being within crowds again, lining up in queues, dealing with road rage and people’s annoying behaviour on public transport.
This week, while I joined the large amount of people in Melbourne enjoying freedom, I was reminded of the stresses and irritations of daily life. I began to miss relaxing train trips, quiet towns and the fact that I almost never had to wait in a line for anything.
But the fact is that Melbourne is still one of the most populous cities in Australia (contains almost five million people). Even though many people escaped Melbourne during lockdown to move interstate, there are still many of us here. So I need to get used to the fact that Melbourne is not going to be the calm, quiet place I wish for. It will go back to the being the lively, vibrant and colourful city it is known to be.
So I have decided to ease slowly back into this new normal life — to enjoy these new freedoms in moderation but to also treasure time spent at home in solitude relaxing, reading, writing and thinking. The lockdown although very painful, devastating and depressing, gave us a rare opportunity to reset our lives — to let go of our old lives and embrace a new life that is hopefully more balanced and fulfilling than our past lives.
So I will try to embrace this new life as much as possible and use it as an opportunity to live a more balanced, fulfilled and mindful life. And if it ever gets too much, I know I can always retreat to my home for much needed solitude and relaxation, before I am ready to emerge again and face a COVID-normal world.