Covid-19 hit the world…News started coming out from Wuhan, I started panicking. More startling news started coming from home, from Iran. My parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends started to self-quarantine, I panicked even more. I started making plans, deciding whether or not to see my friends, to keep restaurant reservations, and worst of all, whether or not to go to exhibitions; I started my self-quarantine. Then it hit Italy, Spain, France and eventually took over the UK. I say self-quarantine, but mine was not really one as my husband still had to go to the office, and I begged him not to; I stayed home and panicked instead. Let me give you a time-frame though, we are talking three weeks before UK’s official lockdown; my panic alert had already gone off. I was made fun of by some friends, but it did not really matter to me; I have always had a little bit of OCD and I was not going to let others’ thoughts and opinions on such an unexpected shell-shock of a global event affect me and my decision. Thankfully, a week before the country went into lockdown, my husband’s office closed and he was home with me, we were safe.
Stress levels kept going higher and higher, on a daily basis, no good news coming from anywhere. Iran news was awful, I was and still am worried about my parents and family back home. France news was awful, Canada and US news were awful, and I was worried about my family. It is such a terrible feeling to have your loved ones, your family and friends scattered all around the world and not be able to see them or do anything, and worst of all not know for how long we need to be away from each other…
You do remember me saying I have a little bit of OCD, so the thought of anything known as ‘pre-Covid normal’ has been terrifying to me, even the simple task of going grocery shopping…! Those who know me, know that I spend hours at museums, galleries, exhibitions, cafés and I am the go-to source for restaurant suggestions, I do indeed have a long list! I have missed going out, I have missed socialising, I have missed my old self and my old life, but my worries and stress about Covid-19 have been much stronger and have overtaken the old me. The day I decided to no longer go to an exhibition was truly a sad day, making that decision was extremely hard. I was very much looking forward to seeing the Andy Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern, but fear of a large crowd, doubting someone’s cough or sneeze, standing close to someone, and the major fear of getting on public transport, just sent alarm bells all throughout my brain and that was it, home- my safe home -was my only place to be in!
Stress and more stress, sourdough baking, bread making, cake baking, zoom meetings, Facetime chats, Whatsapp groups, books, stress and more stress and more terrible news took over my life until Sunday, August 16th when I finally stepped foot into a public space! I was finally at the Andy Warhol exhibition, I was at Tate Modern. Wow, what a difficult thing to do; I almost cancelled my tickets last minute, but my husband, brother and parents told me I need to start living in and adapt to this new way of life. With great difficulty, I geared up, mask, extra mask, tissues, hand sanitiser, and off we go! The exhibition was great, absolutely brilliant! The overall experience was not too bad, I just wish there were slightly stricter rules and staff would tell visitors off as there were some who did not really adhere to the social distancing rules and young lady, if you are reading this, you need to stop being selfish and be patient like all of us; you know who you are!
I think visiting exhibitions, museums and galleries at the moment, under the current new rules, should and would be better as thankfully a swarm of people can and should no longer be in a confined space like in the pre-Covid times (aaah, that far distant memory!) but I think I still need a little more time to readjust! As wonderful as the Warhol exhibition was, I was unfortunately far too aware of my surroundings- who was close to me, who sneezed, who coughed, why did they cough, was it a continuous cough- and all this took away from the relaxed pleasurable experience I like to have doing what I love the most. I know I will be back to a museum, soon, I have a long list of fabulous exhibitions I need to make sure I see, but I think I will be doing it at a slightly slower pace than everyone else!
I do want my old life back, I do want the old me back, but what is my old life today? Very different. Strange how we all need to adapt to a new lifestyle, to a “new norm”; a new post-Covid life.