I was talking on the phone with a friend this morning. I can’t remember her exact words, but she said something to the effect of, “I thought things would feel better once we moved to Level 3. But instead they feel worse.”
Two-and-a-half months ago, on 24 March, I decided to start this Lockdown Journal. My idea was that each day I would write about whatever was on my mind related to the COVID-19 lockdown, for as long as the lockdown lasted.
Today, for the first time since I started, I’m hesitant to share how I really feel because I’m just so despondent and I don’t want to freak all of you out or bring you down with me.
At the beginning of lockdown, we all cheerfully ended conversations with sentences like: “See you when this whole thing is over,” or “Looking forward to meeting for coffee as soon as lockdown ends,” or “Can’t wait until we can have a drink together again!” These sentences became the new COVID-19-era pleasantries.
Nearly 70 days later I’m still exchanging these pleasantries, but with a lot less breeziness and enthusiasm. Because: 1) Except for visiting each other at home (which logically seems okay but is technically not allowed) or sitting/standing awkwardly in outdoor spaces, there’s still no telling when we’ll be able to socialize again; and 2) The longer this limbo state continues, the less I actually want to socialize anyway.
Every country in the world has its own coronavirus quarantine quirks. But the thing that makes South Africa’s situation the weirdest, in my opinion, is that our lockdown started before the pandemic “took off” in this country. And while our COVID-19 cases and deaths are still steadily rising 70 days later, we haven’t yet experienced the crippling health emergency everyone expected. This should be a good thing, right? Right?
South Africa’s lockdown regulations are gradually loosening as the COVID-19 cases are gradually increasing, creating a strange sense of dissonance and dread.
Should I hope more people start to get sick, so we’ll reach our peak sooner and then we can go back to “normal”? This is a totally absurd thought but I find myself thinking it, even though I certainly don’t want to get sick, don’t want anyone I know to get sick, and am pretty certain there is no “normal” to go back to anyway.
In other news:
- I can’t even begin to express/address the sadness, anger, fear, and agony I feel over the current situation in the United States. It’s utterly horrifying on every level.
- In Joburg, the avalanche of restaurant closings has begun. People are jobless and suffering. Crime seems to be ticking up.
- My own paid work has more or less come to a standstill. While I am wildly fortunate to have savings, it won’t last forever. I know I need to move my career in a drastically new direction, and I have some ideas about how I might do that. But right now my motivation to move forward is completely stalled by crushing fear of failure and the unknown.
I’ve got some other personal problems I’d love to share. But really, who needs to hear any more moaning from someone like me? I’m one of the lucky ones.
Today’s Featured Photographer
I might have skipped blogging altogether today if not for my excitement to share the work of one of my favorite Joburg photographers: Andile Bhala.
I met Andile in 2016 (I think) on an Instawalk in downtown Joburg. I’ve been watching his photography evolve over the years — he’s always been a great photographer, but over the past year or two Andile has gone next-level. He captures the spirit of Soweto, where he was born and raised, in such a beautiful, powerful way. Also Andile is an all-around good guy.
View this post on Instagram
Think back about who had your back, while on their back and still covered your back. : Mosie Mamaregane
Andile has a website featuring his work documenting Soweto. Please follow him in Instagram at @andilebhala.
I’m in a much less hopeless mood than when I started this post. See you tomorrow.
You are not alone. I am not happy in Level 3 at all, there are just too many people around. I don’t even know what I want normal to be anymore 😕 Your daily posts have been, and still are, a highlight of my day. So few people are saying what they really feel. Thank you Heather, and I hope things improve for you soon. Xx xxx
Aw, thanks Di. Sorry you’re struggling too. It’s so, so hard. xxxx
It’s hard to find the motivation to reengineer a career when one is stuck in a limbo situation.
I’m confident the energy will come to you when the time is right 👍🏻
You have a very good point 🙂
Oh Heather, today has been a day of so many conflicting emotions! I want to go and have coffee with my friend down the road. Well that’s not allowed! I can go to church with 49 strangers! I am angry and confused. Some one mentioned the hype of Y2K and the media hype of Covid 19. Are they the same? I remember the panic of 1999…. we were doomed! I know 100s of 1000s of people have died but is this just a really bad flu year? Have millions of people around the world lost their jobs, destroyed the fabric of our lives for a “bad flu”?? Sorry, I am done!!! And I am so angry about the orange twat that I have no words!!!
I feel you Debbie. I definitely think it’s not just a bad flu, but on the other hand this disease is just so inscrutable. So hard to know what to think about anything and it’s all so frustrating. Argghhhhh. And the rules in SA are ridiculous. And DT is an evil monster. I just can’t.
This Level 3 is the worst so far for me too. Strange cigarette social experiment aside – something about 21 days then 35 days made me see every day as something new to be challenged against and a step closer to the end.
Now tho, it’s endless, the days are the same, the anger and malaise have no direction. There are actually more things to do but somehow less things i want to do.
I also feel I untethered from my normal ease in being sociable – I haven’t seen any friends in person in quite a long time now, not sure I remember what it’s like anymore. Definitely need to take a break with 1 or 2 people I don’t live with, try and teach my head to accept such things as normal again… This stage of lockdown is definitely the pits, hope it changes quickly :/
All of this. Especially your second paragraph 😩
I love Andile’s work. I went to visit a friend yesterday, part social, part work and it felt so good to interact with someone else besides Terry but somehow I kept on feeling that I need to get home. I think it’s going to be tough getting back to some form of normal.
Hang in there. I feel the same way I went into London today and it was surreal and crazy. Sending you a virtual hug.
Thank you 🙂
Day by day.
Is all I can say.
Day by day.
We have been very lucky in New Zealand with only 8 weeks of lockdown which hugely reduced cases. It sounds very tough for you in South Africa. And like people are not locking down (presumably because they must work or else starve) or there would have been more effect. For those who are complying a never ending lockdown to achieve little, would be difficult to contemplate.
Well…It’s not exactly like that. I think most people are complying, and our numbers are really low considering the country’s population and economic conditions. But you can only ward it off for so long.
The uncertainty is, indeed, crushing. It’s really hard to try and do anything professionally.
Yes. Worst time ever to be a freelancer. Although I guess it’s maybe better than being unemployed.
If you are unemployed, though, you get unemployment payments. 🙁
I also considered that. But only in America of course.
The world powers don’t want people to feel comfortable. They want you all depressed and feeling powerless. I predict another global lockdown worse than the first. They haven’t played all their cards yet.
It’s a waking nightmare. But don’t let them win, your own heart is sacred.
I know this is a really really long shot…..
Have you considered doing your nurse training in South Africa….?
Most of us here in London have been largely unaffected by the lockdown- still getting paid- no threat of job losses- pension- sick leave – annual leave (all available in SA as well). Why did I leave? (When I really really didn’t want to). Nursing in SA is largely black now but you never know….it would be interesting to speak to any practising white nurses. It may also facilitate your SA citizenship and you would never never run out of blogging material.
Keep safe. It will end. I went to Camden Market yesterday – really edgy part of London- lots more people about – not that horrible eeriness.
Andile’s work is spectacular. Sadly, his website doesn’t say how to contact him or if any of them are for sale (that I could tell). I am sorry that this lockdown has been so difficult for you, Heather. It’s tough in the US too but the rules haven’t been quite as strict as they are in South Africa. I am fortunate because I am retired so had no income to lose. And I live alone in an old, paid for house so I can’t complain. I just miss my favorite past-time of going to live theater, but that is just an inconvenience. I had to cancel my April safari to Malawi and Zimbabwe, so that made me very sad. But I will reschedule when I can. I can still Zoom with friends and watch things on line so I really have no good reason to complain. I ache for my broken country and all the people that have been so negatively impacted by the pandemic. November cannot come soon enough for me. (For those of you who don’t know why, it’s when the Presidential election is, the time when we will vote the Orange Monster out)
Hahaha. Yes, we can only hope. I’ll be voting from SA for sure. (Luckily I’m still registered in Virginia.)
PS, sorry about your Malawi and Zim trip! Two of my favorite countries.
It really is tough times. My friend who heads a nonprofit in Cambo announced that they had to close. My teacher friends are scrambling, too. And it’s so goddamn depressing. But I told myself to keep busy, stop thinking too much. I had my “financial breakdown panic” session last month so I’m good until the next one. 😛
We’re better off than most, and while that’s not exactly uplifting, there is small comfort in it.
Yes, totally. It’s hard to complain when so many people are worse off (and yet I keep doing it).
It’s okay. We all do it.
Hi Heather strange times indeed. So happy to see brother Chris’s bread I can almost taste it all the way from Canada! All the best Carol