It’s Day 31 of the South African lockdown. Today I baked bread.
Thank you to everyone who responded to yesterday’s post and encouraged me to continue lockdown journaling. I received some good content suggestions, which I will describe below.
1) Fellow blogger Autumn suggested I attach color themes to my lockdown journal photography and name the days accordingly, for example: Bluesday, Whitesday, Tealsday, etc. I’m intrigued by this suggestion but afraid it could be too challenging. However there are seven days in a week and seven colors in the rainbow…It’s an idea. I’ll sleep on it.
2) Reader Nancy suggested soliciting lockdown stories from my readers. I really like this idea a lot and want to implement it immediately. If you would like to share a lockdown story — 200-300 words max, please don’t send a novel — contact me. (I might not share all the stories I receive.)
3) Reader Elizabeth, who lives with her two children, asked if I could write more about what it’s like living through lockdown alone. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, as the world seems fascinated by people — especially women — isolating alone.
My diary of living alone under lockdown still appears on the Culture Trip homepage and I’m told it’s been quite popular. I also read an interesting story in the Washington Post about women living alone during lockdown.
Women locked down alone is already part of the COVID-19 cultural zeitgeist, but I’m also curious about men who are locked down alone. If you’re a lone man I’d love to hear your story (but women’s stories are welcome too).
Regarding my own experience, we’re a month into lockdown and I’m still pretty fine doing this alone (not that I have much choice).
No offense to the parents among you, but I decided long ago that I didn’t want children and I’ve never been more relieved about that decision than I am now. (No offense, kids — I know your parents love you — but you seem like a lot of work.)
As far as a partner is concerned, there are times when I think it would be nice to have another person around to experience this insanity with. It’s also really hard going for weeks on end with zero human contact. Sure, I’m lonely sometimes — as I sometimes was before the pandemic. But I also know that finding a person who I like enough (and who likes me enough) to be with 24 hours a day, seven days a week is damn near impossible. Since I don’t have a person like that right now, I’m happy to ride this out solo.
During the lockdown several people have said to me: “I don’t think I could do this alone.” My response is always: “You’d be surprised what you’re capable of when you have to be.” But I also think solitude is easier for some people than others (here’s another Washington Post article on this topic), and I’m well suited for it. I enjoy my own company. I don’t need to be busy all the time to feel content. The intense anxiety I felt at the beginning of this ordeal has mostly gone. And while I love my friends, it’s been nice to have a break from the constant pressure to socialize.
All that said, I’m still terrified for humanity. And I do wonder how long this is going to last and if I can be happy living this way for another three or four months. I also wonder how I’ll cope with “normal life” again, if that ever even happens. Let’s see.
Enough of this philosophising. I baked bread, people. The dough actually rose.
I feel a bit ridiculous about my bread-baking obsession. Baking has become such a COVID-19 cliché, like running marathons indoors or watching Tiger King.
But I failed at making bread a couple of weeks ago (there’s a photo in my Day 20 post), and since then I’ve been determined to succeed. I bought instant yeast from Spar and stole a bag of bread flour from Fiver and Stuart’s apartment. My friend Crystal sent me this recipe for peasant bread, which requires only four ingredients and can be baked in a glass bowl. So I went for it. (If you’re reading this within a day of publication, check my Instagram story to see how I made the bread.)
I realized my bowls weren’t the right size so I had to use a loaf pan. I’m pretty sure I added too much water, and part of the bread stuck to the dish. The crust is a bit too chewy.
Nonetheless, I triumphed.
I just found out the Baker Brothers have re-opened in 27 Boxes, which is wonderful for them. So I’ll probably go back to buying my bread there, but no matter. I know I can survive the apocalypse now (as long as there’s instant yeast).
Tomorrow, in an effort to free up my time in the evenings, I’m going to start trying to publish my lockdown journal posts in the first half of the day. Tomorrow’s Day 32 post might be a bit thin on content as it will come hot on the heels of Day 31. But I think that schedule will work better for me.
I’m also going to skip the worthy cause section today so I don’t squeeze too many causes into a single 24-hour period. If you want to support someone today, please see my COVID-19 How to Help page.
I’m off to make a sandwich.