Day 144 in the time of coronavirus and Auckland remains in level three and I have let this journal lapse because I haven’t felt like writing. Each night I say to myself, ‘come on do something’ and then decide to watch an episode of Netflix instead — only one episode, mind you, for I have read that binge watching dulls the mind and ultimately lowers the mood. My problem is that there is too much to write about — there is the disappointment and shock at lunging again into another coronavirus meltdown after 102 days with no community transmission, there is the political turmoil, the election deferred a month and an escalation of hostilities from other parties, the implementation of the depressingly familiar blame game strategy showcasing the viperish tendencies of people hellbent on gaining power not on motivating the population to stand together to eliminate the virus and save lives. All of this has lead to a climate of distrust and restlessness in Auckland and a lower tolerance and commitment, this time round, to applying ourselves to the team effort.
I am genuinely concerned that many Aucklanders seem disinclined to wear face masks in public. According to epidemiologist Professor Rod Jackson Covid-19 is many times more severe than the flu. And why aren’t people motivated to download the Covid-19 tracer app and swipe their phone across the barcode when entering public premises? It’s easier and quicker than taking a photo on the iphone. Are we waiting for the government to implement Sam Morgan's bluetooth cards at a cost of $100 million. Money doesn't grow on trees. We have an app and could use it.
The other problem is that there is also very little to write about, for level three is really lockdown for most of us where each day feels the same, same, same and very boring and pallid and grey, even on sunny days. I write this even though I’m in the midst of a busy work programme, one that I find sustaining and interesting and also, as a member of a family bubble, I am involved in their lives offering support as they try and deal with the impact of the restrictions on their newly created family of four, the little one will be just five weeks old on Monday. Observing this situation in close up I realise how hard lockdown is for families confined to home without their normal social outlets to break up long days, even harder when a parent is working in their midst requiring a level of quiet to be productive. Actually both parents are always working. In this instance, one is full-time parenting, the other is the main income provider.
When the bad news first broke my daughter asked me what to do about the three year old. Should she tell him we were in lockdown again? My advice, was 'No, keep it from him for as long as possible.' It took him seven days to work it out by a process of deduction, we think, for not a word had been breathed, apart from once when he asked his father if he could play on the swing down near the beach. ‘No,’ said his father. ‘The playground isn’t available for ten days.’
The following day on my arrival I was called upstairs for ‘a show’. There we were seated on chairs, baby tucked into a soft cotton wrap, wound around her mother’s body, facing the bed, Remy in the bed with all his soft toys under the duvet preparing them for their moment of stardom, when he got up suddenly and shut the bedroom door. ‘We have to lock the door because the coronavirus is back in Auckland,’ he said, very firmly. ‘Everyone has to stay inside, and Mormor has to stay the night, and we can’t go out because there are snapping creatures out there.’
My daughter and I sat there mouths open, looking at one another. How did he know? Creche and the fact that he wasn’t going anymore hadn’t been mentioned, but of course he must have sensed his weekly rhythm, three days at daycare, was out and odd. Then his teachers launched their regular videos again, of them performing dance routines, reading stories, doing puppet shows. That must have felt familiar from lockdown. But how he knew it is only Auckland in lockdown is a puzzle.
I think, reflecting on these family interactions that I am in a good position really, yet it doesn’t stop me being disturbed. It’s the feeling in the atmosphere that corrodes. This time I do not find peace in the stillness. I do not embrace the rhythm of walking on my own around the park. I do not feel greatly uplifted when I spy a lone cargo ship, coloured cream and orange, moving slowly across a sheet of gunmetal grey water towards the container terminal, even though the colours and textures seen in abstraction are gorgeous, no my heart does not leap for joy for I am losing hope that we will ever rise again and be free of this wretched virus. Also I miss being with my friends, seeing the light in their eyes as they talk, their features animated. Sometimes I even miss the smell of my friend’s home, of her.
There are days when I feel like a boat grounded in the mangroves, without the promise of a returning tide to float me back into the swim of life.