Like a lot of people, when lockdown in England became official all that time ago in March, I thought to myself ‘this probably won’t last that long’. When May came around and I was celebrating a virtual birthday for my best friend, I thought ‘okay, this has been a while, but I’ll be fine. My birthday isn’t until July – lockdown who?’
As the 4th July zoomed closer, the chances got more and more remote that I would be having a ‘normal’ birthday. July always seems so far away to me. Being pretty much the youngest in my school year, I always felt like I was waiting the longest time for my birthday to come around. This has stayed with me a little bit – back in March, July was SO far away, no way would this still be happening. But it’s July and we’re here.
When the lockdown ease plans were first announced, 4th July was there as a date, signalling some form of normality. Finally, when it was officially announced that pubs, bars and restaurants would reopen EXACTLY on my birthday, I had messages from friends that I had just missed that dreaded lockdown birthday that others had had. I could and have that normal birthday like I would any other year. But was that really the case?
Of course, I made vague plans in my head – maybe I could go and have some lovely cocktails and tapas in my favourite restaurant in Bristol. They have live music, delicious food and a great atmosphere. Perfect, plans sorted. But then you really start to think about it. Who with? I’d normally celebrate with my partner and closest friends, but with the friends back in London, I don’t want them to risk coming all the way to Bristol for a cocktail. My partner would and did of course celebrate with me, but I miss having that group.
Then you really think – am I ready for this? The day lockdown ends, do I really wanted to be rushing out for a shot with everyone else? Answer: no. Quite frankly, I’m not ready to be back in a hot, busy atmosphere with little to no space. It’s not that I don’t miss it, of course, I do. But the issue hasn’t gone away and with COVID-19 still lurking about, I’m happy to make do with a gin over Zoom!
When I woke up on my birthday and saw a very drizzly July day (honestly, summer birthdays do not mean summer weather!), it was another small blow. We had planned to spend the days on the outskirts of the city – Clifton Downs is beautiful and with a walk across Clifton Suspension Bridge and a wander around the cute streets of the village, it would have been nice to have some good weather for it. But we bundled up with our brollies and headed down anyway, and honestly? It was probably the best weather for the first ‘proper’ un-lockdown day. We did see a few pubs and bars ready and waiting and already crammed by midday, but the thankfully the streets themselves were still very quiet and we could enjoy a socially distanced wander without worrying about bumping into people in crowded, overexcited streets.
I’m happy with my decision to stay locked down on my unlocked down birthday. I’m a lot more lucky than others who have faced the lockdown birthday. I could see some family after 4 months of not seeing anyone and could still have a wander around a lovely part of Bristol. It may not be a Passionfruit Martini, but that can wait. For now, I’m happy with gin, cake and a social distanced wave!