Normality

We are creeping back to normality, slowly, reassuringly, strangely. I still miss being close to the people I care about, but to see them in 3D, as more than shoulders and a head on a screen, has been so important. To be around more than one person at a time and engage in conversations where friends can bounce off one another has made me feel so much more human again. I had missed the texture of conversation that happens when different people are together, bringing the depths of their own thoughts and opinions. Being able to laugh with people I hadn’t seen since I went away in January feels surreal, good, but still surreal.

Today, for the first time since March, I sat and people watched. I’ve missed watching stranger’s interactions, taking in the way people communicate and navigate the space around each other. Of course that’s different now, people need to leave more space and as necessary as it is, I’ve found it also makes reunions feel slightly anticlimactic. Friends spotting each other across the park move towards each other full of excitement but stopping just before they collide. Siblings meeting up for a walk keep apologising when they forget themselves and get too close. Together but not as we were, not as we would’ve been.

As exciting as it is, I think the change is making a lot of us apprehensive. We’re not out of the woods yet, but there are moments when it feels like we are. You can go shopping, sit in the park with your friends, have people over for a barbecue, all things that you might be doing anyway and yes, more cautions should be taken but as I say, it’s easy to forget. For many it’s also easy to forget how difficult things were and, as a result, how diffcult they could be again. I think many of us are finding this limbo and the not quite normal harder to navigate than where we were before. The inbetween means I’m constantly fluctuating between hopeful and hesitant.

People’s conversations are starting to be about things other than the pandemic. Some more trivial topics slipping back into our chats but, far more importantly, some long overdue discussions are happening too. Times are hopefully changing, in more ways than one.

I think a lot of the ongoing shift will be about balance. Today I saw three men walking through the park, each with a takeaway pint in one hand and wheeling their bike with the other. Keep doing what you can, but try not to feel guilty about sensibly tasting a bit of normality again. Avoid public transport, but enjoy your pint.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

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