Closed borders, closed minds

There was light at the end of the tunnel and it has been rudely switched off.

Not the light at the end of the pandemic. That’s a long way off. But the light at the end of not knowing when I’ll see my grandparents again.

They’re in their 90s. Every trip counts.

I had to cancel a trip in March and following this week’s announcement, it looks like I’ll be cancelling a trip in August as well.

I understand why. I’m not an idiot. But I’m not coping well.

Elderly man and woman sitting at a table and smiling at the camera
Christmas 2018

I’d be quite happy to quarantine at home for two weeks upon return, it would be no change to my life the past three months, but at a hotel and at considerable expensive is not an option. (Should-out to all the people who can’t be trusted to self-quarantine.)

And the anti-Victorian sentiment is like rubbing salt into the wound. It’s like the 2019 election all over again.

I’m not talking about Twitter. Twitter comes with memes and snark. It’s part of the package.

I’m talking about people who aren’t saying it to be funny.

Even before the official announcement about borders, as I felt my hope dwindling that my August trip would happen, I ran out of energy for people’s wilful ignorance.

I’ve been angered and hurt by people who are so caught up in their view that everywhere south of the Tropic of Capricorn is one giant, hostile city, they can’t be bothered differentiating between Melbourne and Victoria – even when told otherwise.

English setter lying in a bed of ivy, head up looking at the camera

Only two days ago a colleague declared that there were “clusters all over Victoria” and when I corrected them that it’s certain suburbs in Melbourne, someone else said those clusters could spread all over the city. I held my ground and said the clusters were across Melbourne, not, as had been said, the state, and they argued with me.

They argued when I said Melbourne is not Regional Victoria.

Mildura is closer to Adelaide than Melbourne, I’m sure they’re stoked to hear they’re just a suburb of Melbourne.

I understand that data is tallied at a state level, I understand the virus can travel, but when people just happily decide the entire state of Victoria is a series of suburbs of Melbourne, it reminds me that the regional solidarity I was hoping for when I moved to Townsville doesn’t exist.

Would people in Townsville like to be included in things happening in specific suburbs in Brisbane? No, they’d riot.

And remember how people in Townsville felt when the whole state of Queensland was shut down, even with almost no cases in North Queensland? Well, guess how I feel that the entire state of Victoria is blacklisted when the area I want to go is clear.

Yes, this is small. Yes, this is petty. But small and petty add up and up and when you’re emotionally down, they kick you. And when I’m already feeling the strain of being an outsider, it continues to remind me that when people don’t even want to hear that Melbourne is not the entire state of Victoria, they amplify my feeling of being unwelcome.

Even if you can’t tell the difference between a city and a state, accept the difference when you are told otherwise, and consider why the difference might be important.

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