I miss the human touch.
I know that’s maybe a weird thing to say. After all, I live alone. I don’t have kids. And I’m not the world’s most touchy-feely person at the best of times. So I’m hardly doing a whole lot of touching. But yeah. I suppose you only realise how much you take something for granted, when you can’t do it.
Do you ever do that when you have pain? A sprained ankle? A crook in your back? You promise yourself... when I’m fit and healthy and I’m back going about my normal day-to-day life, I won’t take that feeling for granted. But of course you do. We all do. It’s human nature.
I think for the most part, the authorities here are doing a really good job. There are elements of the punditry, colleagues of mine, who just weeks ago were saying this whole coronavirus thing was overblown.They're now screaming that the government should have acted sooner or restrictions should be harsher.
I’m not a public health expert, but I do think we were a bit lax at the airport. For example, the fact you had people who were arriving from countries with significant outbreaks, lining up next to people who’d just arrived from countries with no outbreaks.. didn’t make a lot of sense. Obviously the authorities agreed. The information and checking around self-isolation was obviously a bit lax too, and in the last couple of days the government has really tightened up the situation at arrivals. Ashley Bloomfeld has been an excellent communicator. Regardless of your politics, you would have to agree the Prime Minister is at her best as the public face of a crisis response.
At work, we’re doing a big split. The newsroom is dividing – there’s a red team and a blue team. The teams will take turns to work out of the newsroom and work at home. They’ll never cross over in the office. But for the theory to work in practice, you can’t do anything socially with your colleagues either. Physically, you can never cross paths.
So, at the end of the day yesterday, we said goodbye to each other. We don’t know when we’ll all be back as one newsroom. People who I sit next to five days a week are on the opposite team. Of course the social distancing protocols meant we couldn’t even give each other a hug goodbye. I felt a bit sad.
I’m a bit worried about my grandparents. Well, more worried than they seem, anyway. I called Grandad a couple of days ago and asked if he was stressed out by everything.
‘Oh No’ he said, in his thick midlands accent. ‘I just walk the dog.’
The phone has been really nice, actually. And I don’t mean for texting or tweeting or checking Facebook. In the last week, every night I’ve sat down and had a couple of good conversations with friends and family. That’s one of the few blessings of this whole mess. Yes, we’re isolated in a physical sense. It’s feasible we could be even more so in the days and weeks ahead. But we’re all in this together. Isolated yes, but there is no one who isn’t affected.
From Grandad in Ashburton I’ve made calls to the Middle East, to New York, to home in Golden Bay. Email is well and good. WhatsApp messaging is a godsend. But I read a piece in the New Yorker the other day... a guide to life in self-isolation. And it noted there’s something especially nourishing about the voice of a loved one at the end of the line.
In the next few weeks, I’m going to be deliberate in dealing with the anxiety that comes with the unknown.
I’ll listen to music. Read. Exercise. Eat lots of veges. Tend my little garden. Try not to drink too much. Turn off the news and the flashing push alerts for a few hours every day.
I’ll wash my hands every time I pass a sink. I’ll keep phoning my friends and family. I’ll keep laughing.
I will take solace in knowing that as stressful as this moment is for all of us.
This too shall pass.
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