It’s Day 100 of the South African lockdown. I’m still here, at home, on my couch.

Heather on Day 100 of lockdown
Here I am on Day 100, wearing the nearly completed scarf I’ve been knitting for the past six months. (If you look carefully, you’ll see a knitting needle sticking out of my hair.) I had hoped to show off the finished product on Day 100 but alas, I haven’t quite made it. I’ll update you in my next post.

Many people in South Africa have been writing about Day 100 on social media, posting montages of photos, reflecting on what’s happened over the past three-plus months, etc. I don’t want to be redundant or overdo it. But this day does feel quite momentous for me, as it does for so many others. I truly don’t feel like the same person I was 100 days ago, in the same way the world doesn’t feel like the same place it was 100 days ago.

This blog, which has defined my existence for the past ten years, is also not the same as it was 100 days ago. I used to blog once or twice a week — maybe three times if I was feeling really inspired. But I blogged for 53 days in a row when the lockdown started, and then continued to blog five out of every seven days until today. I’ve now published 89 total posts since I spontaneously decided to start this lockdown journal.

Today I’m officially ending the journal, simply because I’m burned out and Day 100 seems like a good day to stop. It’s kind of weird timing though. The reason for the lockdown itself — the COVID-19 pandemic — is only just getting started in South Africa. Yesterday we had 9000 new confirmed cases of the virus. A week ago we had 6200 new cases, and a week before that we had 3800 new cases. The curve is getting steeper, not flatter. So even though my lockdown journal is ending, just as the South African lockdown rules are easing, for the foreseeable future I’ll be living the same locked-down life I’ve lived for the past 100 days.

I’ll have more to say after I return from my blogging holiday — about a week from now. In the meantime, I thought I’d share my top five most popular lockdown journal posts and some thoughts about each one.

My Top Five Lockdown Journal Posts

Of the 89 lockdown journal posts I’ve published since 24 March, these are the five that received the most pageviews.

1) Joburg COVID-19 Lockdown Journal: Day 5

beaded bird in my garden
The photo I posted on Day 5, which had nothing to do with the topic of the post.

I’m not sure why this post was the most popular of the 89; I think it has less to do with the subject matter and more to do with the magic of internet algorithms. However, I do think this post captures that strange, incomprehensible angst many of us were feeling during the early days of lockdown. I was all over the place, sharing all kinds of random thoughts and links to articles on a variety of topics, rambling on about the minutiae of my day, and ranting about people I felt were unfairly policing my emotions.

When I reread this post (and many of my other early lockdown posts), I feel a bit embarrassed about how melodramatic I sounded. But clearly a lot of other people felt the same.

2) Lockdown Journal: Day 36 (Outside in Melville)

Aguil and Madi walking
Aguil and Madi outside walking on Day 36 of the lockdown.

I wrote this post on the day President Ramaphosa eased our lockdown from Level 5 to Level 4, which allowed us to go outside to exercise for the first time in five weeks. I was overjoyed that morning, as were so many South Africans, and I guess that’s why so many of them read this post.

3) Thoughts About Racism, Anti-Racism, and White Supremacy (Lockdown Day 66)

Racism

I’m glad this post made it into the top five. I wrote it at the end of May, soon after the murder of George Floyd, and it has nothing to do with the South African lockdown. I think it’s the most important post I wrote in this series, and one of the most important posts I’ve ever written in the past ten years. #BlackLivesMatter.

4) Lockdown Journal: Day 16 (My 1000th Blog Post)

Heather and Jon in Tanzania, March 2007
Jon and me.

Here’s another post that had nothing to do with the lockdown but simply had to be written during the time the lockdown was happening. Writing this post pushed me to look inward and revisit my past in a way that I hadn’t done in quite a long time. I’m grateful it happened when it did.

5) Lockdown Journal: Day 56 (Melville Food Relief)

Man carrying food parcel in Melville
Food parcel day in Melville.

This is the first post I wrote documenting the Melville food parcel distribution, which happens every Thursday. I am so grateful to have discovered this program and become a part of it. I’m grateful for the inspiring, selfless work that Tanya, Sean, and all the volunteers are doing to help feed our community. And I’m grateful to those of you who have donated to keep the program going. You have fed hundreds of people. Thank you.

Top five honorable mention goes to Life in Joburg During COVID-19, which is technically not part of the lockdown journal but was the first post I wrote about the pandemic. I published it about a week before the lockdown started. This post has received more traffic than any of my other pandemic posts. I’m quite fond of it myself, mainly because I will never forget how beautiful Delta Park was on that glorious, late summer day before we fully understood how the world was about to change.

Delta Park cosmos
Cosmos in Delta Park.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog throughout this crazy 100 days. So many of you have read and commented faithfully, day after day, and I never would have completed this mission without your unwavering encouragement and support.

I promise I won’t be gone for long. I’m going to spend the next week catching up on some admin and thinking long and hard about my next book. Thanks to the coronavirus I think I finally have the time, and the will, to tackle this daunting project. I’ll have more to report when I come back.

Worthy Causes

Sorry, one more thing. Just a reminder that over the course of this series I highlighted more than 40 ways to help people in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve compiled all of these causes into a single post, highlighted at the top of my website. Please consider donating to one of them in recognition of our 100 days of lockdown.

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