How long has it been since life as we knew it was put on hold? There was no end date, no one was able to tell us what exactly is going to happen and there definitely weren’t any tutorials that would show us how to deal with it. Life was at standstill yet so much has happened in the last two months.
Two weeks before everything stopped, we went on a long weekend road trip around the wine regions of Victoria and South Australia. On Friday evening, we were sitting at a farm by the fire, drinking wine and chatting under a starry sky. Just then, something clicked, snapped and fell into the right spot in my head. For the first time since we returned from our slow travel tour, I felt like myself.
What was going on? I briefly mentioned the state of my mind once to a couple of friends but probably didn’t sound serious. Most likely, I self-sabotaged that announcement. I have depression. Only my husband knew how much I struggled. I didn’t want to write, didn’t touch my big camera for 4 months after the trip, didn’t feel entirely happy even when I smiled.
Work was a nice distraction. Planning and researching my new business idea worked good too. But it was that night by the fire that healed me. It was also supposed to mark the new period in my life, a new start if you will. But that’s when everything stopped and closed down instead.
Thank f*ck for that long weekend away. I can’t imagine being depressed while forced to stay home and having to figure out this new situation. I wouldn’t be able to push through it.
My tours are not happening, my driving test got cancelled, my new business will have to wait. With all the time in the world now on my disposal, I went ahead with all the isolation activities possible. It was a wonderful time of discovery. Turns out I’m an obsessive overachiever.
I went down that rabbit hole just a month ago. Not because I didn’t want to do so earlier – purely because of the good flour shortage and long waiting period in the online store.
Once the flour arrived, I was already well educated on all things sourdough thanks to YouTube (my YouTube suggestions feed is now 90% sourdough-themed) and my first day of starter growing happened straight away. It took only 6 days for Pierre (yes, I named my starter) to grow strong enough for the first bake. My first proper sourdough bread was a great success. Those hours of watching videos paid off.
Now, I still experiment with different recipes, flours, scoring, temperatures etc but every time I bake, it results in another beautiful loaf, baguette or pizza. Not planning on stopping this even when everything opens and life returns to new-normal.
My speakeasy opens every Friday at 3pm. Before isolation, my bar-skills were limited to pouring a glass of wine or putting together a G&T. I trained hard for the last two months by watching all Steve The Bartender videos and now, not only can I mix cocktails, but I also developed my own recipe for a pretty pink rose vodka cocktail.
Years ago, back in art school, I was never into watercolours. I wasn’t interested in them but also wasn’t properly introduced to them by any of our teachers. One day I woke up craving an artistic outlet and just started painting with YouTube tutorials (YouTube is a lifesaver in many categories). It’s like meditation but with something (more or less) pretty as an outcome. It’s not a cheap hobby if you want quality materials but it’s something I’m not getting rid of after the lockdown.
I also created this masterpiece:
Other than a tiny fake plant on a high shelf in the kitchen, our house had no greenery. Just before the lockdown, we went to Bunnings and bought ourselves two plants. I decided to get just two, small, cheap ones because I knew they were going to die. I tried many times and well, I’m not a green thumb.
To our surprise, the plants survived. Fiddle leaf fig was a bit fussy in the beginning but we reached an understanding – I had to move it to a different spot than I originally planned but in exchange, the diva plant agreed not to die. After going strong for a few weeks we even named them.
Who’s doing workouts with Joe or yoga with Adriane? We’re huffing and puffing our way through Joe’s sets a few times a week and sometimes I add a bit of yoga if I need extra stretching or me-time. And while 20 minutes of working out in front of a screen is doable, I really miss my local yoga studio and the peaceful atmosphere it provides.
I’m back to learning Japanese. I did some Duolingo lessons a few years ago and bought some books but never really worked with them. Until now. I’m writing, listening, reading everything in my Genki books. I watch some videos and try to understand some easy-Japanese news before hitting the translate button.
I really hope Japan will be one of the places we’ll be able to visit soon.
My house has never been so clean. On chilly mornings, instead of turning the AC on, I go around the house with my vacuum cleaner. When I’m “tired” of doing nothing, I grab a cleaning spray and clean something. One day, I even washed the windows out of boredom.
When we need extra comforting, I bake cakes, sweet buns and other sugary creations. Sometimes, this happens twice a day, sometimes once a week but I’m finally going through all the bookmarked recipes.
We weren’t going out a lot, maybe once a month but I miss restaurants. First of all, discovering new flavours, eating things I can’t cook at home but also the vibe and not having to cook for a change.
One day I decided I want to recreate a fine dining restaurant experience at home. We went all in, including dressing up (me in a dress and heels, Hubby in a suit). The first edition was fun but the second was even better – this time, we were finally allowed to have guests. It’s more rewarding to cook for more people than just us two. I still miss restaurants but now I have more trust in my cooking skills than ever before.
Whether it’s TV shows, Scandi dramas, movies from the 50s and 60s or obscure comedies, we’re on it. Almost every night is a movie night and I must confess we spent more than one weekend binge-watching a few seasons of some TV shows.
All those isolation cliches (ah yes, I also baked banana bread) were captured on photos and shared on social media of course. Guilty as charged. No remorse.
Many of our friends say they saved a lot of money because they don’t go out, they don’t travel, they don’t commute to work. Same here but we didn’t save it, we just spent it somewhere else. The real danger of watching YouTube videos is wanting all the equipment. Now we’re proud owners of a shiny pasta machine (aka Hubby’s Italian Super Car), bar kit (up until a few weeks ago I was using a jar in place of the shaker) and spirits for mixing. I spent at least $200 on art supplies and who knows how much on fancy flours. I might have looked at gas pizza ovens too.
Is this it? Is everything going to be (new)normal again? Are my newly obtained skills going to be of any use? And is there any point in pursuing that new business? Who knows. Our state is taking tiny steps into reopening restaurants, cafes and pubs next month. Still no news about my driving test though.
There are still more unknowns than one would deem comfortable. But despite all of that, I’m OK. I’m open to new adventures, to sharing my failures and feelings and I’m not giving up. The future can’t be all bad.