Two Steps Forward (Six Steps Back): A Coronavirus Diary

This month felt so much like a miracle that we couldn’t believe it at first, things had actually started to improve! We didn’t go wild; we started off slowly and tested the water of our new found freedom by popping to the local park, then renting a car and driving out to a remote loch for some time out of the city. It felt a little extravagant to rent a car for non-essential trip like that, but neither of us feel safe using public transport, especially the bus which is what we would have had to use otherwise. Plus, it was nice to flex my rusty driving skills a little.

After those pretty isolated trips outside we saw that one of our local pubs, which has a lovely outdoor terrace, had opened again. It’s a relatively small business but the outdoor space is large enough to keep people properly distant. We dithered about it a little but in the end we booked a table and went along. Andrew took it in his stride fairly well but I was really scared initially! All ordering and paying was done via an app and customers had to wear their masks everywhere apart from at their tables, which were spaced out far from each other. I was happy to go and support them with their reopening and it was such a beautifully sunny afternoon, something we hadn’t experienced all year so far, that I began to feel safe (but not complacent).

The cases in Scotland started to rise just a couple of weeks after the biggest relaxing of the rules. There was a particularly messy outbreak in Aberdeen which resulted in a local lockdown being reintroduced. It was so upsetting to see, and concerning for the people there. Personally, even though we knew that we wouldn’t be outside of shielding for very long, the reality of it started to sink in and we decided to have one ‘good’ week before the shit potentially hit the fan again. With my birthday and our wedding anniversary coming up, Andrew booked a week off work and we arranged some outdoor stuff to do.

We were as careful as we could be, we booked outdoor tables, we walked away from situations that we didn’t feel comfortable in. We wore our masks, we sanitised our hands compulsively, we visited gardens and river sides and street food vendors. We went on a walking tour. Basically, we came up with more and more creative ways to support small businesses but not have to go indoors anywhere and it was going swimmingly until our boiler broke down in the early hours of my birthday. With time to wait for it to be fixed, we booked into a local hotel, which happened to be the exceedingly fancy Dundee Malmaison. Let me tell you, the actual physical lift I experienced by staying somewhere that wasn’t our old four walls was something that I didn’t know I needed! It was just lovely.

Our week outside came to a close, our boiler was fixed, and we returned to quiet life indoors just as a couple of local outbreaks were reported in Coupar Angus and Dundee. A factory and a school respectively. No deaths, thank god, but such a worry for those involved and for the area as a whole.

As the end of the month approached I found out that I won a place at the college I’d applied to! I couldn’t believe it! I got an unconditional offer for the access course, part of the SWAP program, which opens the door to a place at a university the following year. It’s a potentially very steep learning curve, I’ve been away from education for so long, but all things considered when I accepted the place I was so much more stable than I’d ever been when I have attempted this path before. Such an exciting opportunity to retrain and be able to work and earn a living.

And then Andrew lost his job. We’ll be okay. Andrew is looking wildly for something else, there isn’t an awful lot about just now but we remain hopeful. We are going to do what we can to allow me to start college and retrain as planned, but it could be that I have to get some kind of job and try to work until I flare to cover the bills. I feel a bit sad that the one constant that hadn’t let us down through all this had been Andrew’s work, but now that has come for us as well. We’re both gutted.

I said this would be my last Coronavirus diary and I’m going to stick to that. To take stock of where we are now the pandemic has cost us a lot of money, messed with our mental health, further affected my physical health, put us into debt, and now – finally – we’ve lost what was our only source of income. We’ve tried our level best to find joy in the day to day, to keep afloat, and we are incredibly lucky in that we managed to go outside and do things after our months of shielding, if only for a week. We have resource, we have family support, we won’t lose our home and we won’t go hungry. So think, what kind of experience are others having if ours, with all our privilege, is like this?

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