It’s Day 76 of the South African lockdown, and I have now blogged on 71 of the last 79 days. (I started my Lockdown Journal three days before the lockdown began.)
I have blogged about virtually every aspect of lockdown, COVID-19, and the state of the world during the pandemic. I devoted an entire post to my “airing of grievances” related to COVID-19, and have moaned or complained in every single one of my 70 previous posts.
I’ve blogged very little about the good things happening during lockdown. So that is what I’m going to do today.
Following the tradition of my Jozi Tops Fives series, here are five good things that have happened to me during lockdown. You may have experienced some of these things too.
1) My world view has completely changed.
I see the world differently than I did before the pandemic hit. I can’t say I’m seeing things more positively, but I’m definitely seeing things more clearly and I’m really happy about that.
It’s not like I was blind to the inequalities in the world before all this happened, but I was semi-ignoring many of those inequalities. Not anymore.
I have become much more aware of my privilege in this world; I will never be able to forget it or take it for granted, not even for a second. I’m fully aware of the economic injustice, the racism, the gender inequality, and the flat-out cruelty that humans are inflicting on one another. I won’t stop thinking about it, or talking about it, or trying to do something about it, ever again.
We need to do better, humans. I’m watching all of you — myself included.
2) I’ve spent so much quality time alone.
Last night I realized I’ve been home alone every single evening and night for three solid months. This has never happened before, ever in my life since the day I was born. And I have to confess, I love it. I was never a night person anyway. And while I do miss my early morning boxing workouts, I can’t say I mind lying in bed a bit later each morning, either. Life moves more slowly now, and I like that.
I’ve also gained a whole new appreciation for the home I live in. I’ve photographed every flower and listened to every bird call. I’ve studied every feature of my cats’ faces and appreciated the time I spend petting and hugging them. They’re the only living things I’m able to hug.
3) I’ve changed my approach to shopping and food.
I refuse to hand my money over to big retail food chains unless I have absolutely no other option. I order my groceries from local food suppliers and center my diet around fresh, local fruits and vegetables. I cook actual healthy meals for myself, rather than subsisting on toasted cheese sandwiches and Woolworth’s veggie patties.
I refuse to buy sliced bread in a plastic bag. Fresh-baked bread from a baker is more expensive but totally worth it.
I plan to take the same approach to clothes-shopping and all other shopping going forward — buying less, and supporting local/small businesses whenever possible. It feels great.
4) I’ve met wonderful new friends and reconnected with old ones.
If not for the lockdown, I wouldn’t have met Bongani and Bongi or the great people volunteering with the Melville food program. I feel like I’ve widened my circle of friends intentionally and purposefully, and I appreciate these friends in a way I wouldn’t have done before. I’ve also reconnected with old friends, some of whom I’d hardly spoken to in years, and it’s been wonderful.
My relationships with others are all I really have in this world. I won’t forget that after the pandemic ends.
5) I’ve realized the power of this blog.
I’ve been blogging for a very long time — nearly ten years — and I wouldn’t have continued for this long unless I knew it meant something. But over the past 79 days, the power of this blog has blown me away and brought me an unspeakable amount of joy.
Because of this blog, I was interviewed in the New York Times and will forever be known as the American woman in Joburg who quarantined alone with her two cats.
Because of this blog, I have connected with people all over the world during lockdown. Quite a few of you signed up to support me on Patreon, even though I’m not able to provide the content I promised at the beginning of the year. I’ve received so many compassionate, supportive messages from readers. A lovely lady named Nancy, who I’ve never met and know nothing about other than she lives in America, sent me a gift voucher to my favorite local bookshop.
I have received so many donations from readers for the various causes I’ve highlighted during lockdown. I haven’t kept track of the amounts — as soon as you send me money, I just transfer it right over to the specified cause — but it’s definitely in the tens of thousands of rands. And those are just the donations I facilitated personally.
Many weeks ago, when I wrote about Kelvin — a handyman in Melville who left a note at my door, telling me about his struggle to find work during Level 5 lockdown — one of you sent Kelvin an e-wallet payment to help him keep his head above water. I don’t even know who it was. Kelvin was relieved and ecstatic.
Just yesterday, after I wrote about Mbali — the Underbridge Chef, selling lunches from her bright yellow food trailer in Milpark — two of you sent money to Mbali to help build her business. Mbali is beyond overjoyed — not just because of the financial support, but because she knows people value her contribution to the world. Thank you.
During this lockdown I’ve realized I have a real 2Summers family spread across the world. I don’t know most of you personally, or even virtually. I know most of you have never commented or sent me a message. But I know you’re there, and you’re reading, and my blog means something to you. Like Mbali, I know there are people out there who value what I do. I can’t explain how much that means, especially now.
This blog is everything to me, and that’s because of you. Thank you.
Today’s Featured Podcast
In honor of all things wonderful, I urge you to listen to this podcast episode called “Gobi”. It’s one of the best, happiest stories I’ve listened to during lockdown.
“Gobi” is part of the This is Love podcast series and it has absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19, police brutality, facist politicians, or any other news story from the shit-show that is the year 2020. It’s a story about a man and a dog and (spoiler alert) it has a happy ending.
Please listen — it will be the best 20 minutes of your week.
Your blog is one of the best. And I love that so many good people are reading it and acting on it.
Good work, Heather!
Thanks Catrina. And thanks for being such a loyal reader and commenter! It really means a lot.
Love your blog and look forward to it each day!
Thanks Terry 🙂
Hello Dear. I am definitely relating to all 5 of your good things that happened during lockdown.
As a California girl living in Jozi, I love reading about your perspective and experiences.
Im a foodie and photography lover, but one significant difference of my lockdown experience has been that Ive quarantined with 7 teenage boys, as I run a boys home. I have learned important lessons about myself and other human beings that no other experience could have taught. Good things, not-so-good things and everything in between. Love these boys on new levels now.
Even though there are 8 of us, I have found small way to spend quality time alone as well as more time with our cats, one of who had kittens at the beginning of lockdown. First time in my life Ive spent so much time with kittens. What a gift they have been to all of us ❤️
I look forward to our new and changing world as we slowly emerge from our cocoons.
And lets hope that our US friends and families in the midst of the fight for BLM can stay strong, keep up the movement and make significant steps forward in these long-overdue changes towards equality and healing.
Thank you for being you Heather 🙏🏼
Thanks so much for the message, Cheri. Seven teenage boys under lockdown sounds very challenging. But a litter of kittens under lockdown sounds amazing 😍
I love your blog Heather! Thank you!! It rocks… 🙂
Thanks Russell 🙂
This is just wonderful, Heather. I wish I were as introspective as you. And I love all the new things you are discovering and appreciating (and thanks for the call out. I hope it was a good good book). Until we meet one day…..Nancy
I’m reading it now. My book club will be discussing it on 27 June and we’re meeting at Book Circle Capital 🙂
I look forward to your blog everyday – during COVID-19 more than ever! Thank you for your words and beautiful photography.
Thank you so much!
Lovely blog Heather. Everything has changed for all of us. “Onwards and upwards” is all I can say – and assist where and how we can.
I first started reading your blog in January / February 2014; we had just moved to Melville from Durban the December of 2013 – it was my first time living in Joburg and I had no idea what my new neighborhood had to offer. You offered so much insight into navigating the city.
I continued following you even when we moved back to Durban in 2015.
2020 finds me back in Joburg, living alone and navigating this new normal. I still look forward to reading your posts! I must admit that when you decided to take weekends off, just for a moment, I was like ‘oh! no!’ I had become so used to your daily posts. Glad to have found 2summers!
Keep on keeping on 🙂
Aw, thanks so much Revlaine. I hope you’re coping with the solo lockdown life.
I’ve been reading your blog religiously for the past couple of years even if I don’t comment. I love the insights you’ve given me about my own city and admire your openness in trying new things. So many people close themselves off to new places or experiences out of fear so it’s refreshing to see someone do the opposite.
You definitely have an impact – I’ve donated where I could when you’ve highlighted causes. I’ve visited places based on your recommendations (pre-lockdown) and shared those recommendations with my own friends.
A blog like yours requires real vulnerability – thank you for sharing yourself.
Thanks so much Sue! I really appreciate the support.
I love that people send you stuff for others. You’re like the best kind of middleman! Or, um, middleperson!
I love it too. I’m happy to be a man or a person.
Thanks for this and for all your posts. Love the honesty that never lets up with you, especially now when all around us things are so – indescribable and getting more so …
Thank you Caroline.
We have gotten so used to reading your daily blog. I can’t actually remember a time when you blogged less frequently… and quite frankly, I don’t want to get used to that idea! I love the daily blog!
I also can’t really remember that time 😂
I LOVE this post and adore your blog. You and Meruschka did more than any tourism body to put Jozi on the map and uncover its great and quirky heart. Your blog will become part of COVID history, it really should. But the best is looking forward to your post everyday and feeling like you were in the room with me. Your daily posts have inspired me, resonated with me, made me think, laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Keep on doing what you do, and being who you are, because it is worthwhile and so are you. Xxx
Thank you so much Di. That was a nice comment to wake up to 💛
Standing ovation! 😀🎈💜
As Farmer Angus says: Every time you buy food you chose a farmer – it’s either a destructive farmer or a regenerative one, the choice is yours (he is the Western Cape and maybe SA’s no 1 regenerative organic farmer). And artisanal is the other way to go, I hope the people catch on.
That’s a great saying!
Great blog and yes I too wait everyday for your post. Your last post on your visit to Katlehong was the first time since lock down that I was envious of someone doing something out of their home.
I’m happy you felt that way. You would love it there!
Love the positivity; we all need an occasional dose of that.
Unfortunately buying from small producers is only an occasional treat for some and out of the question for many. Part of what’s needed is small scale community farms near to the consumers where, in some cases, labour can be exchanged for produce.
Also a great idea.
You have helped my to love Jozi a bit more
Mission accomplished 🙂
I love your outlook and how you can always find good things in a strange situation. And the power of your blog! Your readers are amazing!! You’ve created such an incredible community.
I’ve been quite introspective during this time, thinking about what’s important to me, how I want to travel in the future, what I want to feel like each day. Things I wouldn’t have thought about if we weren’t all going through this right now.
Thanks Rebecca. And I’m right there with you – never introspected so much in my life!