(With all due credit to Ian Dury)
I did a few things today that I haven’t done in a while. I put on proper clothes, rather than ‘something comfortable’. I drove the car. I wore jewellery. And I met a friend for coffee, this latter the reason for the former few. Clothes I found easy, and my watch has sat on the unit in the bedroom practically since we moved here (I don’t wear it often inside). But I couldn’t remember where I’d put the little box in which I keep my earrings. And I was halfway up the highway before I realised I wasn’t wearing my engagement ring, and where the hell did I leave that the last time (when?) I wore it?
Driving is a little like riding a bicycle, something you never forget how to do, and the car I returned to driving is an automatic so all I had to do was point and shoot. I got that wrong, missing the sweet spot to swing it out of the car park in one move and had to do a reversing manoeuvre to get around the corner onto the ramp without taking off the front offside wing and scraping the nearside front door. (Darling, there’s something I have to tell you…) This meant the garage roller door started to close as I was under it. Panic ensued when it seemed like it wasn’t going to stop before it made a nice dented line across the top of the car (Darling…) and I quickly flicked it into reverse (shit, where’s reverse?) and out of harm’s way. Once on the highway it felt like I’d never been away.
All over there were signs that life is no longer locked down. Outside the barber’s half a dozen unkempt looking men waited their turn. There were no women outside the hairdresser’s next door – we women are sensible and we make appointments – but inside each chair had a caped inhabitant. Cafes that have been closed for weeks were open, tables spaced the requisite distance apart. I drove past a playground and children swang, slid and climbed where last week there had been closed signs.
I met my friend – we hugged. We went into a café, signing in for just-in-case tracing purposes. We sat at a table a metre away from its neighbour and chatted, sipping coffee and eating cake. Around us others did the same, many women with small children enjoying their post-lockdown bubble-bursting. I drove back into the city and walked to the apartment through streets busier and with more open doors than I’ve seen for weeks. As I sit here typing the hum of traffic is constant rather than the on/off it has been.
Tonight we are eating out. Yes, food that we haven’t cooked, and not sitting at our own dining table. There will no doubt be wine, and some of it may have bubbles in it. (Darling…)
It’s all pretty wonderful really.