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

Australia: Part 3

A month in Australia and I’ve moved into my new place, the location is great, the number of cockroaches who also seemed to have moved in is less great but it’s all part of the experience. I’ve made a bit more of a plan for the next few months which is exciting, Sydney is brilliant but I’m aware there is a whole country to see which I’m looking forward to. In the meantime, I need to earn some money to be able to afford all the travelling I want to do so the job hunt continues, with more urgency everyday. 

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Being unemployed means lots of time for people watching which I’m enjoying, I’ve noticed there is always lots to take in when you’re in a new place but I think that perhaps the longer you spend somewhere, the more you notice it all. When you’re just visiting, you tend to rush through the days, trying to see everything and fit it all in. But when it’s more permanent and you have the luxury of empty days there is more time to observe the routines and the movements of a place. That being said, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve noticed since being out here, a few things about the movements of the city.

  • There is more small talk and fleeting connections. When people in coffee shops or supermarkets are asked how their day is going it’s met with a smile and a conversation instead of that subconscious british hostility we’re so used to.
  • They toast their banana bread which makes a simple but life-changing difference. This is the only place I’ve been where I feel like my love for banana bread is matched.
  • Bus drivers wait for people, if they see you running they won’t close the doors seconds before you reach them, they’ll hold on a minute. Generally everyone can hold on a minute, the sense of urgency that exists amongst us at home seems more rare here.
  • Early starts and early finishes. I saw a sign in a gym window inviting people to join a running group that meets at 4.40am. On Saturdays. The days end much earlier too with people eating out at 6 and heading home rather than experiencing the long summer evenings.
  • Coffees are tiny, it seems like caffeine is there to serve a purpose rather than be enjoyed. They have keep cups the size of espressos and most lattes you can see off in two sips.
  • The more cockroaches you see, the less fazed you are by them. Slightly concerning because I definitely don’t want to get used to sharing my kitchen with the uninvited guests but on day one I was squirming at the sight and now I’m batting them away like flies.

So a month of not working has been great, it’s been incredible to enjoy the city, but I’m ready for a job now, for more routine and structure and something to fill the days. So if someone could hire me now that’d be great. Please.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett