Living With Corona

It’s been so long since I wrote the last blog post that I’d forgotten the wordpress login information. But it simply felt wrong not to take time out of my strict social distancing schedule to chronicle my thoughts on the current coronavirus situation. 

By the way, our last blog post, which was written roughly four months ago was ‘my cardinal rules for commuting in London.’  The irony is palpable. 

I started because I love to write. I wanted to get better at it and chronicle our lives as expats in London. I wanted to have something that could transport us back to this time when we’re old. COVID-19 has certainly played a big role in our lives in recent weeks so it deserves its very own blog post. 

I know it seems like a long time ago, but this whole thing started in late December/early January. As I recall, the spread of the virus in China started to be part of global headlines in early January. Back then – about three months ago – many of us thought of this as a far away problem, not something that would impact our day to day life so dramatically.

It’s now mid-March. I think it’s fair to say a lot has changed in recent weeks – and we’re not just talking about the sunshine, which has finally begun to make an appearance in London. We went from the Australian wildfires to coronavirus in what seemed like a blip – and with every passing day the situation is getting more tense and evolving in sometimes unpredictable ways. 

On a more practical side, our life has only just started to be truly affected by the virus. Until last week, we had been commuting on busy trains to our offices, heading to our regularly scheduled appointments, eating out, meeting with friends, traveling to other countries etc. Basically doing all the things that we’ve been blogging about for the last two years. 

We did all of these things in a slightly different way than usual, but we still did them. Using hand sanitizer more frequently, being mindful of sneezing and coughing, wiping our airplane tray tables and washing our hands about 50% longer and 50% more frequently.. 

At the same time we started to play a little game of ‘worst case scenario’ (any This is Us fans out there?) I started to go to the store and pharmacy, buying a bit of sanitizer here and there, stocking up on a pack of cold and flu meds. I mean, it was unlikely to be needed, but you never know right?

Now, just weeks after a short weekend to Seville with friends, life is completely altered. Countries who are essentially neighbors with the UK – Italy, France – are imposing strict quarantines. In those countries people are not allowed to leave their house unless it’s for essential reasons. Essential reasons include things like shopping for groceries, going to your job if you can’t work from home and getting medical treatment or going to the pharmacy. Countries are banning travel and gatherings of 5 people or more. I’m not going to list everything here that has been cancelled because I’m certain you’ve heard – 2020 is basically cancelled, or at least postponed until further notice. 

I will preface my next thought with the following – before I get side eye or judgement – this is written from a place of privilege. I am fully aware of that. We are both extremely fortunate to have full time, permanently contracted, white collar jobs at global companies. We are able to conduct our jobs safely from home and our employment is (at least for now) secure. However, what I’m sharing is still our experience, and as such I believe it’s valid. While we try to get perspective every day, it doesn’t change our feelings and our truth. 

Living through this situation has made us feel a whole range of emotions – sad, angry, overwhelmed, anxious, scared, fed up, bored, tired. You name the emotion, we’ve likely felt it. I work in communications for a large multinational corporation and this virus has taken over my life completely. It’s coronavirus from sun up to sun down. 

This is what a regular weekday consists of:

  1. I open my eyes, get on Instagram – nearly every post is COVID-19 related.
  2. I crawl out of bed and turn on the BBC global news podcast – every single story is about COVID-19.
  3. I open my work email and start working – COVID-19 crisis comms is the only thing I am working on for 9 hours – mostly uninterrupted. That’s calls, reading news, watching press conferences, reading emails, writing etc. all related to the virus in some way. 
  4. We have dinner, unwind and discuss the day’s COVID-19 news.
  5. We put on Netflix, but drift to our phones and begin scrolling reddit, Instagram or the news for more COVID-19 stories, which we debate and discuss.
  6. I head to bed – one last scroll for the latest news before I toss and turn falling asleep to the thought of coronavirus. 

I know this isn’t just my reality as a comms professional – everyone’s job is in some way affected by this. Bartender? No customers or the bar is closed. Video producer? Can’t film events or interview people. Nurse? At risk of getting infected every day or overwhelmed with the amount of people needing care. Police Officer? Patrolling the quarantined streets of Italy. You get the idea. Every person on this earth has or will eventually be affected by COVID-19. 

Okay that was a bit doom and gloom, now onto the silver lining. 

We feel extremely thankful that we’re living through this in the 21st century. Thanks to the Internet and technology we’re able to connect with friends and family around the world at a moment’s notice, making us all feel less crazy about everything that’s going on and more connected to those we care about most. We’ve probably caught up more with friends and family in the last few days then we have in months. We have endless entertainment readily available at our fingertips. We will be spending a lot of quality time with each other talking, doing puzzles (which we ordered online for overnight delivery) and playing board games. 

We also feel extremely thankful that we live near a few green spaces where we can get some fresh air and play fetch with Leo while keeping at a safe distance from others. We also feel thankful that (albeit some saying we were overreacting) we’ve slowly been preparing for eventualities and we feel that at this time we have everything we need and more – food, shelter and things to keep our mind occupied. 

This virus has been a helluva rollercoaster, and the ride ain’t over yet, but we find solace in the solidarity that has come out of this unexpected and unfortunate situation. 

We’re interested to know how this situation has affected you and how you’re getting through it day by day. Email us, DM us or comment below.

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