By Mariana Serapicos
I queued for an hour to get yeast and milk today. I usually wouldn’t have done so, there wouldn’t be the need to do so, usually. But in times of pandemic your local bakery becomes the source of hope for all of those looking for some basic supplies. One could argue that yeast is hardly a basic supply, but in times of pandemic baking bread has become more than a hobby; I choose to watch my bread rise instead of the numbers. I don’t want to binge watch Mad Man (again) so instead, I make bread. I might not be re-watching the TV show, but I feel like I have become a character easily depicted in it, all I do is bake and clean. Or at least it feels like it. Like some of the characters in the show, I’m very privileged, my main problem of the day was waiting an hour for yeast. Any other day I would have given up, walked home, but I had nowhere to be, nobody to meet so I waited with another twenty people (two meters apart) who eagerly needed their baked goods. A baby coughs behind me and I think ‘what am I doing here, I should have stayed in.’
I spent over two hours on the phone last night “house partying” with friends. The app that allows people to join a virtual conversation is becoming the new pub. I enjoyed catching up, I have enjoyed catching up with a number of friends who I haven’t spoken to lately, busy people, far away people. It’s not the same though, is it? I was trying to figure out why. We were having drinks, like we would in a pub, we were chatting, like we would in a pub, and I wouldn’t feel the need to hold my friends hand every fifteen minutes, so what was different? There are many differences, but the main one for me was the flatness. The faces on the screen are just flat there, I look to my sides and I see my house, not my interlocutors. I’ve lost my peripheral vision.
My partner works for the NHS, so he’s doing good and necessary work. I am “working from home” as they like to put it and suddenly Capitalism feels pointless. It’s easy to discuss it from a theoretical and intellectual perspective, it’s another thing to live it. We are witnessing the crumbling of this system that has established itself – there were no marches in favour of Capitalism (directly). I like my job, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel pointless. I wouldn’t clap for myself.
I’m meant to get married in July, ‘you have plenty of time, it’s in three months’ time’, I hear that a lot. But two weeks ago, I had plane tickets to go to Brazil and in twenty-four hours the plans turned from certain to cancelled. Nobody knows what’s coming. People call it a tsunami, I call it a Mexican wave, it will keep coming. My family is in Brazil and I haven’t seen them in almost a year. I don’t know when I’ll see them, they are on my screen every day; I look around and I think ‘I should clean.’
Flattening the curve, that’s our job now: stay inside. I have to stop myself from clicking on videos of perfectly healthy 30-year-olds with tubes coming out of their noses. I don’t hug my partner when he comes home from work; he jumps in the shower, I put his clothes in the wash and hope for the best. I look up butternut squash recipes (I have three in my kitchen). I feel nothing, most days.
Then I go out and I queue for one hour with my neighbours, I have time for that now. Apparently, we will all learn a new language and get a PhD online, I am mastering the art of origami, when would I have had the time? I’m working four days a week now, a voluntary act suggested by my company so that our business doesn’t collapse. I had selfish reasons to say yes, in the hopes of getting a writing project finished with that extra day a week. But I know deep down that best-case scenario I’ll make a lot of sourdough; worst case will end up in me looking into the abyss (metaphorically speaking because I can’t actually go to the bloody abyss).
The future is uncertain, the future always was, we just made plans to pretend that we had control over events. I still think it will become sharper, that we will start seeing a line, we’ll start pencilling things in. Sometimes you just have to stop so that things can move on, that’s what my therapist said when I was struggling with depression.
I clap really hard and I see everyone clapping around me and I forget about the washing, about the bread, the broken economy, the hospital beds. I feel grateful and thankful and I know we have to wait.
I go online to try and arrange a food delivery; the waiting time is four hours. I think that’s what they call mindfulness.
This is the first in our Feminist Everyday Lockdown Blog Series. Lockdown is a feminist issue, and sharing stories is a feminist practice. We are calling for further contributions to the CHASE Feminist Network blog on everyday feminism and lockdown. This includes creative, political, and personal reflections!
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