If you toss an unbiased coin, the chance of landing tails each time is 50%. But, if you toss an unbiased coin 12 times, the chance of landing tails every time is 0.02%.
That’s a bit like what lockdown has been like for me.
On a given weekend, it’s not unusual for me to spend the entire time at home. You could say it’s a 50% chance.
But staying home every weekend for months at a time? That’s very unusual.
(Was it 12 weekends in a row? Was it 10? Time flowed differently during lockdown. It wasn’t long before it all blended into one.)
Each individual weekend I spent at home during COVID-19 lockdown was nothing out of the ordinary, but doing it every weekend was. It’s only when I reflect on the experience as a big picture that I realise something was off.
During the early weeks of social distancing restrictions, the radio talked about how unusual our weekends now looked, social media discussed ways to cope being at home on weekends, and tiny people in tiny boxes on computer screens asked each other how they were coping.
“I did lots of gardening and read some of my book,” I always answered, with a shrug.
But I do lots of gardening and read books all weekend when we’re not in lockdown. I spent three years doing a Master’s degree, I spent plenty of weekends at home then.
I almost felt bad for being OK with it.
But that’s not to say I was OK with it. Because, individually, there was nothing unusual about my weekends, it masked what I’m feeling after doing it long-term.
It took me a long time to realise I haven’t been coping as well as I thought I was.
I thought I was doing well. Work itself hadn’t changed, just its location. Ballet was still on, it was just via a screen. I even picked up some new dance classes while I had the opportunity.
But slowly, things were feeling off.
It wasn’t when I sat in front of a laptop screen, following the dance moves of the tiny teacher in the tiny box, looking at my reflection in the window and feeling like I was in a ridiculous fantasy novel (sandworms outside my back door, anyone?).
It wasn’t when I drove for the first time in weeks, to meet someone for a coffee – the first person I’d seen socially in weeks that wasn’t in a tiny box (who got my word vomit because I was just so excited to be with someone).
Those times felt surreal.
No, things feel off when I look back.
Look back at all the weeks and weekends in a row.
And look inward to how I’ve become such a homebody, my comfort zone firmly entrenched within the boundaries of our backyard.
I was quite the homebody before (50% chance of any given weekend at home, remember?) but spending so many weeks at home in a row has reenforced it. It has solidified my comfort zone and has made it harder to leave it. Even the few weekends I’ve been out since restrictions lifted (Bunnings, Coles, an overnight camping trip…) I’ve felt apprehensive leaving the house.
Home is safe. And not just from COVID-19. It’s safe from all those scary things outside my comfort zone, which is apparently everything right now.
Except ballet. Picking up new dance classes during lockdown made me leave my dance comfort zone, and find a new confidence in my dancing.
I’ve now been back at ballet for two weeks, and loving every second of dancing in a studio again. Of having a proper, stable barre to work with. Of not bumping into my kitchen wall during centre work.
One of my ballet friends touched me on the shoulder to say good night, and I know we’re still supposed to be physically distanced but incidental, friendly touch may just be the most amazing thing ever. (First time we went out to a restaurant after lockdown, to celebrate my birthday and an award I got for my Master’s, the waiter accidentally brushed my arm and I was shocked to feel touch.)
I wasn’t a particularly a hugger before, but I really want to hug everyone now.
And now it’s back to the office on Monday. My colleagues will no longer be tiny people in tiny boxes.
But I’m sad to return to the office.
At home I’ve been watching the ducks go on adventures (and giving the tiny people in tiny boxes updates on those adventures), taking phone calls outside because the signal is dodgy at the dining room table, and enjoying the extra time I have in the mornings and afternoons when my commute is five metres. Every day I picked fresh flowers for my desk.
It’s going to be great to see full-sized people, outside the tiny boxes, but I will miss the little things at home that I found to bring me joy while I was isolated.