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COVID and The City

I’m not sure how to even really start this. But this is how my COVID journey has played out.

At the start of this pandemic in early 2020, I remember the fear of this invisible but seemingly very dangerous virus, something taken from the movies, think Contagion which stupidly enough I watched early on in the pandemic. That didn’t help. I wasn’t really panicking I’d say, but it felt scary to me, cases were hitting 6,000 and I remember thinking that it was so high. And enter lockdowns.

First lockdown was the worst, I felt isolated from the world, scared and alone, what if I die from this virus alone in my studio? People had panic bought essentials, there were no slots for home delivery. But also the news was constantly pumping out an overload of information, and cases just seemed to rise by the minute. And damn you if you didn’t clap for the NHS; bring on the guilt.

The time in-between lockdowns were like a haze, just waiting for them to impose another one, and, now looking back, I think no one really took it seriously after lockdown 2.0. My neighbours were having garden parties and so was the government it seems. And there I was crying because I’m a hugger and hadn’t felt the touch of another for what felt like an eternity during a time where it was needed the most.

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Fast forward and we had just come to a point of where all restrictions were lifted, no more masks, no more social distancing and no more isolating even if you tested positive. And here I was, the woman that normally walked to work, fresh air and nature is conditioning for the soul and all that, but a new job meant a new way of commuting. I quickly learned that the 7:50am train was horrendous so I‘d wait for the 8:04am which most days would allow you to not have to slow dance with a stranger lodged by the sliding doors of the train. But even so, something that I have noticed in London, and this was way before we should’ve been concerned, is that people never cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing. Like how is this not common sense on a normal day? 

So after having “slid around on a shrimp sandwich” (a very common Swedish saying) meaning that I had been lucky and privileged to have not caught this virus, it was indeed my turn. Someone tripped me off the freaking sandwich.

It started with a sensation of a cold; a bit of dizziness. I firmly believed that it was because I got a bit too excited about this one week of sunshine and unseasonable warmth and decided to ditch my coat. A spring cold, right? Happens every year.

But then having lived in this pandemic for a while now, I tested myself day one, day two, and day three; day three was most important to me because I was looking forward to a nice dinner at home with someone. Day three in the morning I took the test and started putting my makeup on whilst having my latte, once I looked human, I checked the test, and it was negative.

I got to work and laughed about the fact to my boss, the fact that none of us has caught it and that my negative test meant it was probably just a cold. During my day I was chatting away at everyones desk, touched all the doors, the coffee machine buttons, you name it. I did feel a little more overexerted towards the end of my workday and remember opening the window because I felt boiling. All the places where I spread my germs are haunting me now.

Because once back home after work I checked the morning test and there it was, or was it? A faint second line. But then I thought that too many hours had passed and this might easily just be a thing that happens while the test lies there over exposing. So shakily I take another one, I messed it up somehow, wasted, especially now when it’s impossible to order them online. I’m clumsy so I’m not surprised. The line was no longer faint, it was screaming in my face that I was as positive as they come.

This dinner was so overdue and my heart literally broke having to cancel it, all the while uttering words unfit for a lady. I had covid. And as much as the law now permits you to go about you life as if it’s nothing, the right thing to do is try to not infect someone you care about.

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And that moment when I had to tell my boss, of the the job I’d only spent two months at, that I in fact I had COVID was scary, because how would this affect my new job? I’m not settled enough to have a WFH set up. My boss though, might just be the most magnificent boss, no moaning, no complaining, just positive and lovely words. It is what it is kinda mood.

So here I was stuck at home for at least a week. I have a garden so I’m lucky to be able to get fresh air, but this “just like a cold” virus was a little worse than that. I have had three vaccinations, and if this is how poorly I felt, I can only imagine how hard it must’ve hit if one is not vaccinated. To walk the 10 steps to the garden sofa felt the same as running up the stairs of Clapham Junction station.

I was exhausted and so short breath. And after that came the coughing fits, you cough almost until you vomit. The throat is so sore during the night, it feels like razor blades. But it doesn’t end there, and weirdly enough this symptom hit five days in, here I was thinking “if I’m going to be stuck indoors then I might as well eat good and treat myself right?!”. Yeah about that, day five during this mouthwatering moment of anticipation of flavour I noticed that my Cheese and Onion crisps don’t taste of anything… I move on to a chocolate cookie, tastes like nothing. I spray some perfume and I can smell it, a little. Next morning I make my morning latte, this is a joyous part of my day, but I can’t taste it. So I’m told to try an espresso shot, I can get a sensation of strength but not really taste it.

So yes I have a mild version of whichever variant this is by now, but it’s not just a cold. And not everyone who catches it is as lucky as me. I have to say though that I went through this emotional episode, similar to the beginning, but this time it wasn’t fear of the not knowing. This time I was sad, because all his time it somehow didn’t fully hit home. Everyone is completely entitled to their own opinions but it’s easy to judge before you have to take that journey yourself, cliche but very true. And at least for me I started thinking of all the people that I had been near during the days where it still showed I was negative and who I most likely infected. Maybe the people I met were fine but maybe their grandparents might not be, and yes before some of you start moaning “people die from the normal flu too” yes they do, but you should also try to not infect people with the normal flu, that’s why for the elderly there is an annual flu shot to avoid this.

I gave a hug to the TFL man, we’re friends, he’s a large slightly older man, not the picture of health, what if I gave this to him and his body can’t handle it? These are thoughts that are less fun, and I try to tell myself that there’s no way I could’ve known, I tested accordingly and we have been told to live life with COVID as if it’s just a cold.

I am now almost towards the end of my isolation, if I test negative in three days I’m back to work the day after.. But somehow I feel like I want people to stay away from me, for their own good. Who knows how long it will take for me to be able to taste something again, or for me to not be short of breath from walking the three steps to my sink and doing dishes containing a bowl and a cup of something that no doubt was tasteless?

We might not be dying from this virus anymore but you sure as hell don’t feel on top of the world. I can’t even walk around the block without it feeling like I climbed a mountain.

So this is why I’ll start with a little hill.

Wish me luck.

P.S. Don’t kiss strangers.

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