Amber and Max feeding the swans in winter

When New Year Isn’t a New Start

As much as I hate New Year’s Eve (And, well, pretty much everything that comes after it, until spring starts…), I normally look forward to the first week of January, and all it signifies. 

The blank notebooks. The lists of goals. The clean house, the “healthy” food in the fridge, and the whole “fresh start” feel of it. I love knowing that the claustrophobia of Christmas is finally over, and, even though I know beyond doubt that all my resolutions will be abandoned by the end of the first week, I still enjoy that brief glimmer of hope that maybe this will be the year I actually keep them, and my whole life will change.

But not this year.

This year, of course, is different: and, fun though it was to pretend 2020 was some kind of mythical dragon that would be slain at midnight on the 31st, I think it was obvious to everyone that, nope, the old year was just going to segue seamlessly into the new one, with absolutely nothing to tell them apart. Sure enough, as of yesterday, the UK found itself back in a full, Spring-2020-style lockdown, which, we’re told, we can expect to continue until March of this year at the very earliest. So it’s not so much, ‘New year, new you,” as it’s “New year, exactly the same you, and also, is there any vodka in the house, because this is NOT the time to be embarking upon Dry January: trust me on this…”

Max and Amber, December 2020Much like the spring lockdown, this one didn’t come as a surprise: instead of the sense of relief I felt last March, though, this time around, all I feel is… er, not much, actually. Well, not other than a little bit of amusement when I looked back at some of my posts from March 2020, when I was apparently under the impression that:

a) The lockdown would last for three months.

b) That this was a very long period of time, indeed, HOW COULD IT BE BORNE?

c) That 171 new Covid cases in a day was a helluva lot, so things could not possibly get any worse. 

Yeah, thanks for the LOLs, Past Me: you sweet summer child, you. I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read some of those old posts back, because here we are, heading for a full year of Covid-related restrictions, rather than the three months I was so nervously anticipating, and instead of bursting into tears at the news of the latest lockdown, I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and got on with my day. (And ordered some more loungewear, obviously, because that’s my THING now, apparently…)

It’s not that I’m not sad about it, you understand: it’s more that I’ve been so sad about ALL of it, for so very long now, that it’s almost like I’ve maxed out my emotions and will have to wait for the tank to be refilled (But how? When?) before I can have normal feelings again. I’d be worried about this state of affairs, but, to be totally honest, I barely even have the mental energy to finish this sentence, so if you’re asking me to be worried right now, you need to understand that you’re asking quite a lot of me: and I say that as someone who normally lists “worrying” as one of her hobbies. Maybe even her ONLY hobby, actually. Yes. 

I think, at this point, most of us are just exhausted, really, aren’t we? Exhausted, overwhelmed, and really, really struggling to believe that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t just an oncoming train, or maybe even an alien invasion of some kind, knowing the kind of luck we’ve all been having lately.

I know this isn’t particularly logical, of course. Here in the UK, for instance, we’re fortunate to be in the position of having two separate vaccines currently being rolled out, which means the end really IS in sight. It’s just… a long, long way away, still, and while logic dictates that, having come this far, a few more months is nothing really, in the great scheme of things, when you’re in the process of trying to live through those months – and they’re the coldest, darkest, most miserable months, into the bargain – it doesn’t really feel like that, does it? 

lockdown walks

It’s winter. It’s freezing. The days are short and bleak, while the nights are long, dark and, well, full of terrors. It took every last ounce of strength and resilience we have to get through the last 11 months, and now here we are, being asked to do it all over again – right down to the the banana bread and the Zoom calls, and the pretence that a “nice walk” in sub-zero temperatures is more than enough to keep us all going for however long this is going to take. It’s a LOT, really: and for those of us who find this time of year hard enough even at the best of times, it’s really a WHOLE LOT.

And so this high point in terms of the vaccine and the overall outlook, has actually come to feel like something of a low point to my contrary self. It’s that darkest hour that comes before the dawn: those last couple of hours of a long-haul flight when you’ve watched all the movies, eaten your way through all the snacks, and now all that’s left to do is sit there, feeling increasingly uncomfortable and wondering if time really does slow down the closer you get to your destination, or if it just feels like it. Those final hours of a long flight seem to take twice as long as the rest of the journey combined, and so it is with this situation, where we’re SO close to the end, but feeling like we’re never, ever going to get there. 

We will, though, of course: and not because we’re brave, or resilient, or any of the other things we might want to congratulate ourselves for right now, but because we just don’t have any other choice. We’re up in the air now, and this plane HAs to land sooner or later  even if it’s just because it’s out of fuel … doesn’t it?

 

COMMENTS
  • Jennifer

    REPLY

    Hi Amber!
    I stumbled across your blog after a random Google search and I’m so glad I did, I feel so SEEN. This post encapsulates everything that I’m feeling at the moment too. It’s been a long ol’ slog to get this far already and I love your simile that compares this feeling to the last bit of a long haul flight – it feels EXACTLY like that. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading some more of your blog posts and am leaving this page feeling a little better that it’s not just me feeling tired and overwhelmed with everything!

    January 7, 2021
  • Mary Katherine

    REPLY

    Ah, sweet summer child…you’re SO right about our innocence and naivete back in the spring. Also, spot on about those last few hours of a long flight. And that is exactly what this feels like – so well said.

    January 7, 2021
  • Amy

    REPLY

    The nature of my ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ situation is that my immune system doesn’t work, I cannot make antibodies so the vaccine won’t change anything for me for a long time.

    It makes it very hard to feel hopeful. :/

    I’m glad to read of your hope though and I shall bask in its glow! 🙂

    January 7, 2021
  • Emerald

    REPLY

    I’m not a great NYE or fan myself. I hated feeling I had to go out in the freezing cold and pay my way into an expensive club. Then the hassle of getting home! I prefer the traditional Hogmanay traditions of popping round to friends’ houses for a drink, knowing that the comfort of my cosy bed isn’t far off. I’m sure I’d feel very different if I lived in Australia, but I don’t miss the crowds.

    I do hope this lands soon too and I am looking forward to the vaccine (despite all the memes that some people on my FB page circulate!). We were off work at the library until the end of January, but it’s now been shifted to February. I am sorely missing the company of others, but am taking the opportunity to do things like write my novel while I can. Hang on in there!

    January 8, 2021
  • dublinerInDeutschland

    REPLY

    Urgh yes, I hear you. I feel the same way. I actually quite enjoyed Christmas in the end- it was quiet but nicer than I was expecting. But I felt quite depressed at the start of this year. There’s nothing to look forward to until.. this summer maybe? I read one prediction that it might take until after December this year before I can get the vaccine here in Germany. I try to go outside at least every second day but yeah a sub-zero temperature walk isn’t that fun! I just wanna be able to see my family in Ireland again 🙁

    January 13, 2021
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