A Few Thoughts About Coronavirus & Staying at Home

Covid 19 Charente France

There are times when there seems to be so much noise on social media that it’s quite nice to just sit back and let it wash over you! I’ve not felt at all compelled to write about how I feel about the whole Coronavirus situation we are all living through, because, well, there’s not much that I can say that will change how you or I are feeling right now. I think as a parent, it’s so important to take care of your own wellbeing during such a trying time.

I planned to repaint the whole house but instead found myself mindlessly watching videos on shaping eyebrows or planting trees – looking for positive things like singing and dancing to feed my heart. There have been days when I just wanted to hide until it had all gone away, but it’s still here. There are so many people giving their tuppence worth about Corona that sometimes it’s best to lose yourself in something else for a while.

I’ve not tested positive but for me, this virus has already infected me – not with it’s contagious persistent dry cough, truck-load weight on my chest or even the high fever that leaves you with sweaty delirium. It has on many occasions infected me with a kind of riddled-with-anxiety feeling that is just there in the background all day every day and particularly virulent around 3.40am. I am hopelessly sad for people who have lost loved ones to it and equally full of admiration for all those numbers of people who’ve had it but not been counted and just bravely muddled through. Like everyone I’m concerned about what happens if someone in my family becomes gravely ill with Covid? How will I get to their bedside? Would I be allowed? When will life ever return to normal? Will I ever greet a friend with a hug again or stand and have a chat in the morning sun after school? Nothing is certain. This viral anxiety is one that I’m able to keep at bay as long as everything in my day to day goes exactly according to plan. My family are all staying at home, so that is something to relax about, they are safe, for now, and well. But at 3am a couple of nights a week, the sky swallows me up and I’m spinning with worry.

The procedure of washing down the shopping and hanging up the mask and gloves with the keys has become strangely normal. I’ve lost count of the weeks at home but what a lesson it has been in tolerance, patience, and forgiveness. I can see why the world has become accustomed to mindfulness and yoga via a daily Facebook dose – I totally get it. I have had to take many deep breaths and shut my ears and eyes to everything but the sound of the birds and the bees busy taking over the world outside on many occasions. The frogs are going like hell for leather mating in the pond over the road and the birds are singing the most captivating melodies at 5am in the morning. When everything else is so intensely bizarre, I’ve found nature strangely calming. Along with a dose of daily solitude, I’ve lost myself in the power of music finding it tearful and uplifting in one and the comfort of Zoom and alcohol on a Saturday night feels weirdly restoring. It would appear I’m not alone, many friends have expressed their awareness of having found a new joy for baking and gardening albeit with a shorter fuse than usual and dealing with surprising, unexpected emotions that come in jolts washed down with a general feeling of overwhelming responsibility. We are being asked to worry about the young, the old, the vulnerable, the economy, for life, the planet, our own mental health. We are being asked to think about everyone and everything like never before and it’s a lot on the daily checklist to get through. And breathe…

Where is this all actually going I often wonder? And to what end? We are being revealed all kinds of new information every day about the killer virus, with the unveiling of spectacularly unclear future plans delivered with about the same certainty of a spring lamb flying – no matter what part of the world you are living in. So, yes, these are strange times and never before has each and every single one of us the whole world over ever been asked to dig really, REALLY deep and above all trust with absolute certainty our own inner judgement other than now. Now that is really something. Surely we will all have to come out the other side of this, if there is another side, remarkably different to before?

Alongside all this worry I am equally warmed by a strange sense of optimism. Has it been so bad to live like a French recluse for a couple of months? No, not really. The garden looks nice and the dogs get walked every day and I’ve had more chats online with family and friends that I’ve lived apart from for the past 17 years than ever before. My 100 year old neighbour has made a habit of coming to my window asking me to score her a baguette from our new bread vending machine in the village – always with a joke and a smile. Having lived through the war she must wonder what my problem is, why I am loading the dishwasher for the hundredth time in my pyjamas whilst juggling with home schooling and stirring soup ferociously. She told me yesterday she had five kids all at home, “ouch” I said, “oui” she replied! The Mayor himself popped some hand made masks through while I was chatting on Zoom the other Sunday and said a hearty bonjour to la famille in England down the line – it reminded me of how he spontaneously picked me and the bridal crew up in his vintage car on our wedding day. There are some people whose warmth has really shown through in these times and each and every one of us has our role to play in just getting through. What if the theorists are right and we do end up more thankful, balanced and better for this in the long run? There’s every possibility…

Staying home in France Covid 19

Home schooling in a foreign language has been enlightening to say the least, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that our seven year old has been slightly winging it but each day he’s taking more time and enjoying the art of learning more and more. I think he’d stay at home forever if he could and he’s learnt how to play boules and the joy of dressing a lunch table. Our lockdown was lifted over a week ago here but we’ve not rushed out to a BBQ or met with friends yet. I’m anxious about that. I don’t know how to greet them when the advice is to sit a metre apart at the dinner table. Our restaurant business is still closed for now but we are busy planning a spectacular return one day soon. Things are changing slowly, not returning to “normal” by any stretch but I have noticed that people are in less of a hurry to scurry, head-down back through their garden gate and the strange, on edge silence that lingered at the drive through supermarket has now blossomed into a more chirpy, albeit masked chat. There does seem to be less of that knife edge tension in the air.

I don’t think there isn’t a person the world over who isn’t taken aback by the dedication of the medical profession during this crisis. It’s certainly very thought provoking and inspiring to see so many people so passionate about their work and saving so many lives. Writing crappy blogs seems a bit meh by comparison to be honest but this time has given me a few ideas for some future projects. So there you have it, just a few of my thoughts on it all. Above all I hope that you and yours are well, that you are happy and in some way driven to do new things and live life to the full after all this because, if we’ve learned one thing during our time inside it’s that we are only here once and we have to make the very best of it that we can. Oh and you can now totally get away with having roots and stray greys or get onboard with the whole home dyeing thing. There literally isn’t a thing you can’t learn online these days! And if that’s not your bag then enjoy the baking, frogs, birds and bees. Big loves X

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