In Melbourne, Victoria, we are slowly easing out of Stage 4 restrictions. Along with a large number of Victorians, I am feeling relieved that I no longer have to worry about shopping with my boyfriend (we were only allowed to shop alone) and being out later than 9pm.
I am also feeling hopeful that some kind of freedom is not far away. There will be at least be another month of perseverance required to ensure case numbers continue decreasing and the risk of catching the virus is low.
Sometimes I cannot believe how much my life has changed since late March this year. I went from having a full, busy life to an incredibly quiet life where not much has been happening. I am certainly not alone in this. We have all been in this together but also so incredibly alone too.
I have never been the type of person who likes to stay at home a lot, despite my introvert tendencies (I am an ambivert). I love having friends, meeting new people, being out in the sun and walking at the beach or relaxing in a park.
While I have appreciated the break from “normal” life or pre-COVID life, I have been missing my old life a lot these days. I miss going to cool little cafes and trendy bars, the art gallery and cinema, browsing at shops and being out late at night. It feels like our old lives were cruelly taken away from us so suddenly by this invisible and powerful virus.
One thing I have been thinking a lot about lately is people. I miss people a lot. I miss seeing my family and friends of course, but I also miss interacting with people in general — colleagues at work, fellow students at my barre classes, strangers on the train or tram who I happen to get into a conversation with.
As we move into a “COVID-normal” life, we will have to learn how to be part of the world again — to engage in small talk at the office, to be on public transport again, to see our friends in person and go to gym or exercise classes again. It will feel weird and unsettling at first, but slowly we will get used to it, knowing that this is a much better alternative to being stuck at home for days on end.
While I am slightly trepidatious about getting back out there again, I cannot wait to be with people and be part of the world again. I will need to be patient for a while though — the risk of the virus is ever present and a vaccine is not available yet. Masks will still be worn for a while, which although necessary, separates us from people. We will need to take baby steps towards COVID-normal life, so that one day, we can enjoy a social life again — even if it does look a little different from pre-COVID life.