There’s nothing else for it: I shall have to take to my blog.
I’m supposed to be writing a book but I can’t see the shape of it at all. I don’t know where I’m going or what’s supposed to be happening and I can’t get any sense of it no matter how much I try to re-read what I’ve written. I can usually do that, but not today. Not this week. Not this now.
I think it’s the anniversary. Just like the anniversary of a death can creep up on you, like a birthday can bring emotions even though logically speaking it’s just another day like all the others, and why should 365 days later be an important number, I think the fact that it’s exactly a year since the pandemic came crashing down around us has not gone unnoticed by my psyche. Maybe our subconscious notes the position of the sun in the sky and the progression of the seasons and flags it without our express permission: freak out, batten down the hatches, be on high alert when these things align again, just in case it goes the same way.
In retrospect and so far, I always have to caveat, all our trauma has been uncertainty. Nothing bad has happened to us. If you don’t count the general loss of normality and freedoms to go places and do things and see people and be with others that we’ve experienced since this time last year. Other than that it has all been confined to the what ifs – what if I have it, what if you get it, what if it’s bad, what if I should have ordered that online, what if this is the one thing that will make me regret everything, what is the thing I should know in advance not to do?
But a year of what-if-ing is wearing. It weighs you down. It takes up space that you should be giving to something else. It’s insidious. It probably won’t go away even when it all goes away.
And for me, it’s one year out of 47. What’s another year, right, as the nice young man in the white suit asked. (That’s a Eurovision reference, Americans.) But for my kids, it’s one out of 14 and one out of 12. It’s going to be formative, there’s no getting away from it. And maybe it’ll pay dividends in resilience or flexibility or awareness of how viruses spread at some point down the line – but sometimes the dividends might look more like deepened social anxiety and chronic fear of failure and loneliness and being stuck with your family just when you most needed to spread your wings and spend more time with your peers.
It’ll all come out in the wash, I’m sure it will. But it’ll take us a while. We’re not there yet. And it’s been a year.