I started New Zealand’s first full day of lockdown in over a year feeling sorry for myself. We were supposed to move house this coming Friday, the organised being I am having already packed most of our things into crates and boxes to avoid a last-minute rush, depleted the contents of my pantry to avoid having to transport them between houses. So there we were, watching the Jacinda and Ashley show, feeling a sense of déjà vu and trying to ignore that every word they said was leading up to the words we didn’t want to hear: New Zealand will enter level four lockdown from 11.59pm tonight. (Why 11.59? Why not midnight? It’s always that and I’m not sure why.)
I can understand many of you feeling a little schadenfreude at reading this, a smugness that you are all now enjoying far more freedom than us. Fair enough, I get that. But please remember that I’ve always commiserated with you on your respective lockdowns when we were free to do as we please, and Kiwis in general know how lucky we’ve been. We also knew it wouldn’t last, that it was only a matter of time before this pesky little bacteria penetrated our borders. And, as it did last time, for us the timing sucks.
Our move, clearly, will be postponed. Faced with an unknown length of time surrounded by boxes, searching through those boxes to find items I’d normally need for everyday living, we threw the contents of the fridge into chilly bins and headed north. Neil’s relentless positivity made me want to shove his head through the windscreen, but that would have led to a cold journey, so I settled for moping quietly in the passenger seat.
I can cope with a lockdown and the lack of freedom of movement, accepting that it’s all a means to an end. What I fail to cope with, always, is my plans, or even any vague semblance of a plan, being thrown into disarray with no idea of when that plan can be re-planned. It’s only a three-day lockdown in our area, although I expect that to be extended, but the movers aren’t likely to have space in their schedule in the two weeks following the end of it. Whenever that may be.
We’ve had more than a few issues with this house, a house we contracted to buy in February 2020 when Corona was only a beer for most people. I’d say I’m not a believer in fate, that we plan our own lives and destinies by the rational choices we make. But fate was in control of my life the entire year we were trying to plan our migration and, for the last couple of years, it’s been lurking around corners with an AK47 waiting to shoot our plans to smithereens. (The exception to this, of course, is when I can’t make a decision and I want it to intervene, when it goes AWOL, probably hiding somewhere behind a bunker smoking a cigarette.) I can’t help wonder if it’s telling me we should forget about ever moving into this house and just sell the thing.
It’s nearly lunchtime as I write this and I have found some perspective. It’s the little things – a friend shared some funny cat pictures on Facebook; a tap on the door led me to a plate of freshly baked scones, a lovely friend probably bending a bubble even if he didn’t break it (but those scones were bloody delicious so sue me, and him); a child across the road squealing in delight as he scoops up handfuls of freshly fallen hail to make a hailman, tears of disappointment when it fell before it really stood up. All made me smile (not the tears, I’m not a mean person) and see that life will go on and all will be well with it at some point.
The positive is that we are not in the city, faced with walking through streets for our allowed exercise. Instead – providing we can hit a sweet spot of sun between hail showers – we can walk alongside a river or through the forest, maintaining social distance from anyone we encounter. Neil is even – momentarily – safe from having his head shoved through a window.