When something is taken away from you, snatched out of your hands without warning, we tend to miss it. Normality (whatever that means) was stolen from us ten months ago and has since made teasing guest appearances, enticing us with outdoor eating and socialising with five chosen companions, before finally getting the axe for a third time. And so here we are. Again.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a vaccine and there are brighter days ahead, but this time is still hard, and the outside world still looks like a scary place. But instead of dwelling on everything I miss in lockdown, I thought I would focus on the things that I do not miss. There are surprisingly quite a few. If anything, reading this will bring us all five minutes closer to those brighter days ahead.
I do not miss the pressure of time. 10am Saturday brunch plans are a wonderful idea, until it is 10am on a Saturday and you are excruciatingly late for said brunch. I also do not miss paying £9.99 for an egg (just the one) on toast, even if it is sourdough.
I do not miss the bus despite the years I spent romanticising (lying) to myself that one day while reading my book on the top front seat, a lovely young man would sit on the other top front seat and pull out the exact same book as mine from his East Pak rucksack, thus sparking conversation and a wonderful whirlwind romance – it never happened. I also do not miss bus crowds. Or train crowds. Especially not tube crowds.
I do not miss the rigidity of the working week and living for the weekend. The weekend should be an anchor we can work towards, but not what we give our blood, sweat and tears for. That precious sparkle the weekend holds? Maybe we could try sprinkling it on a Wednesday, a Thursday, even a Monday!
I do not miss the hours spent scrolling through the darkest depths of Expedia or Trivago, planning the next trip just weeks after returning from the last one. I do not miss airports, Ubers, waiting at tube platforms, waiting in queues. I do not miss waiting to go somewhere or hurrying to go somewhere – I have learnt how wonderful it is to just be present and to simply be still.
I do not miss planning ahead. Being forced to take each day just as it comes with no opportunity for editing or tweaking has been a wake-up call. Now when somebody asks me what my plans are for the weekend, I will be more than happy to reply with the occasional ‘absolutely nothing at all’. I think lots of us have fallen in love with ‘nothing’ and have even found our now most favourited hobbies and passions in the extra time this ‘nothing at all’ kindly gave to us.
Clothes shopping is also not missed. The thought of frantically finding another unnecessary outfit in a 45-minute lunch break just to return to the office either sweaty and dissatisfied or sweaty and poor is not a lovely thought. I do not miss excessiveness in any form, especially not in food purchases, beauty purchases or just buying things because they are right in front of me – it is kinder to both the planet and our bank accounts to focus on what we need and what is essential.
I do not miss self-care always being an afterthought. We should treat ourselves, be generous and ever so kind to ourselves every single day of the week. Looking after number one is not something we can afford to forget. It also makes finding the time and energy to care for others come more naturally.
I do not miss hair washing schedules revolving around social plans or spending £5 on a pint, but it would be nice to have the option to do so again soon. I also definitely do not miss that solitary Zumba class I went to in a church hall that smelt like PVA glue.
Of course, there are more things that I do miss, and it is these things that are more important. But they will be within reach again soon. And when they are, I hope I remember to always make time for them and not get swept away in the things not currently being sought after, the non-important things. Life is short – let us fill it with the things that matter most.
By Lucy O’Farrelly