The Melbourne lockdown

These days of lockdown are full of routines, wanted or not. I keep hearing how important it is to maintain a routine, and while I understand it, I sometimes struggle when it gets too regimented and predictable. It’s taken me a while to realise that while I’m well suited to a situation like this in many regards – self-reliant, resilient, strong – there are parts of my make-up that make it more difficult. I’m one, for example, who thrives on change. I’m not someone content to sit in the corner and watch the world go by. I like to engage, I’m curious, and spontaneous possibility excites me. All that has been put on hold.

I struggle with some of the routine and repetitive meetings that are in themselves routine. I hate the fact that at a certain time every day I’ve got to sit at my desk and attend the same meeting as I did the day before to say much as I did the day before, and to listen to the same reports pretty much as the day before. And that’s every day. I tell you, it’s bad for the soul. Just randomly I’ll skip one now and then, and will try and change it up by joining on my phone and sitting on the couch. It’s all pretty lame.

There are more welcome routines. My first coffee. That hour I get to rea in bed before starting work. The tea-break at about 9.45 – I’ve gone from using a tea-bag to a proper brew, and even Indian style occasionally – brewed up on the stovetop until it just boils, like billy tea without the gum leaf. There’s the first trip outside at around 10.30, generally in the direction of the shops. I look forward to that. And then there’s the second trip out walking Rigby somewhere between 3 and 3.30. And I guess knock-off and the G&T that heralds it.

There are larger routines. Yesterday I had delivered a couple of bags of coffee beans, plus a bottle of vodka and one of Noilly Prat (for the warmer months) from Dan’s, and I thought, it must be a month. Deliveries are almost a routine thing, too. It’s rare I don’t get a daily delivery of something, though they come at different times, and in very different shapes and sizes.

I read a bit about how tough it’s been in Melbourne through this lockdown. I think in theory, that’s true. It certainly hasn’t been easy – but it feels sometimes as if it’s been overdone, mostly by people who haven’t lived through it. There are noisy exceptions, but most Melburnians have accepted the situation. None of is relish it, all of us look towards a time when we’re free to move about, to visit friends, to sit down for a drink, and all the rest of it, but we know also why we’re doing this. By and large, we get on with it. It certainly not as miserable as some people make it out to be, not for me anyway. We’ll come out of this strong.

What happens after? I don’t know. Who does? The trend is positive currently and we can see a way clear. But I don’t think anyone believes we’re out of the woods with COVID. A vaccine is a while away, if ever, and there a few places in the world who have it under control – and, even so, we’ve seen how quickly it can get out of control again.

Here, I think this experience has bound us closer together as a community, and may make us more parochial – not everyone’s been happy with the commentary coming out of other states, and certainly the Federal government. The experience may just make Melbourne even more distinctly Melbourney. That’s no bad thing.

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