Monday March 16th 2020 was a really fucking awful day. EVERYTHING had changed in the space of a weekend. On the Friday, I still wasn’t taking the news too seriously. I was certainly not about to cancel my plans because of some rampant flu outbreak. I was young, healthy, gung ho and ...er...clean, and I really didn’t fancy the thought of any of it concerning me at all. I got dressed up to swish across the city as normal and landed myself in the cocktail lounge of the Fairmont Royal York for an aperitif with my friends. I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see anyone outside my household for months. I didn’t know it was the last night on earth before the great implosion. If I had, I think I would have crossed the road to Union Station and got as far out of the fucking city as I could. I would have cut my losses before they cut me...and they did; 2020 was a shank straight to the heart of my soft inner belly.
It has been a year now, and I wouldn’t want to live through it again. Come the Monday I was unpacking a suitcase I had prepared for a dream-trip cancelled just three days before departure. That was one thing; not only had we been ordered indoors with all our plans written off, but I had also lost 80% of my business overnight. I had only been working for myself for a few months, having recently quit my four-year-long job at a YouTube channel. Soon after the chaos of March 16th, my former boss tried to sue me. I already thought the first few days of Covid had me at rock bottom, but it turns out there were a few more rungs to fall from yet. I wasn’t ready to have the rug pulled out from under me so soon after my last great levelling; but the Corona Virus didn’t give a fuck who was prepared or not. To be fair, aside from the “secure the bunker for the apocalypse” type, pretty much nobody was ready for what hit us. We did our best.
Despite what could have been a strong contender for the worst year of my adult life, here I am sitting safe, sound and physically healthy at the end of it. My bedroom is filled with flowers and sunshine and when I look around my space I can see all the love I have poured into it over the last 12 months. Things are far from perfect, but I am in a far better position now than I was back then. Moving forward once again into a great unknown, I find myself reflecting on everything I know today that I didn’t a year ago. Some lessons have been profound, others have been as simple as “keep a few spare loo rolls in the cupboard for when people go mental and start panic buying again”. These are my current takeaways...although I know the wave of realizations may last for years to come:
Dalgona Coffee is Fucking Disgusting
Just to start with something super obvious. I am sorry, but urgh, the Dalgona is gross. Whipped granulated coffee with sugar floating listlessly on a bed of milk? Grim. Banana bread is also a bit shit. It just isn’t a strong contender in either the cake or bread categories. I do, however, highly rate sourdough, but that doesn’t mean I want to scroll through fields of the stuff when I open Instagram.
Trends Aren’t For Me
My last job had already alerted me to my sensitivities toward publicly engaging in “trending” content ( it makes me want to gouge out my eyes) ... but my aversion was reinforced during the pandemic. Participating in something (e.g. the notorious Dalgona) just ‘cause everyone else is doing it makes me feel deeply stressed. I like recommendations from friends and people I respect, but mass hysteria will never be a sell for me.
The Rules Don’t Apply To Stanley Tucci
He can do what he fucking wants, and I am glad that what *he* wants appears to be to film himself making a martini. What. A. Babe.
Nobody Should Be Allowed to Cover “Imagine”
I’ll be frank, if John Lennon were alive, he would think you’re a bit if twat and would almost definitely snub you at the Met Gala, if he even bothered to show up at all. Sit down, babe. This one isn’t about you.
Masks, But Make It Fashion
If you had told me a year ago that I would have different masks for different outfits I would have been shook, but here we are. My friend Tamara has made all my masks and they make the dystopia we’re living in slightly cuter. Currently seeking: something in a snake print.
Masks with a Hangover
If you thought masks with glasses was bad, try wearing a mask with a hangover...I did it once and it may well have been the worst moment of 2020. Except the lawsuit and the breakup. But like...urgh.
I Need Flowers and Plants
Yes, "need". It has been kind of a 2021 thing, but after my sister sent me flowers for my birthday in deep dark January, I have been buying them for myself ever since. I currently have five living plants, two pots of seeds waiting to sprout, two fake plants, four bunches of fresh flowers and three sets of dried blooms. Oh, and a cocktail glass filled with peacock feathers...I am not sure what that is about, but it adds an extra layer. Suffice to say, I need colour and life in my eyeline. I've even started freezing flowers into my ice cubes. I want everything to be beautiful.
Everything Must Be Gold
As well as beautiful, things must be shiny...although maybe the two are synonymous. Either way, I have started spray painting everything gold. We’re not sure why. I also threw out my old cutlery and replaced it with an ostentatious gold set. I am thrilled.
Time Is a Construct
Sometimes it is light, sometimes it is dark. The felt duration between those two states can dramatically vary. Sometimes a day is over in a blink, sometimes it sinks its claws into me and I wearily drag it to the finish line of my memory foam mattress at 11pm. Other times, days can be an entire season of episodes with many lives lived across the expanse of a few hours. Time is only relative to how fast I am moving. Yeah, I know Einstein called it first. It is just interesting to experience in practice.
It Is Lonelier to Be In Bad Company than It is to Actually Be Alone
To be locked down with someone you aren’t jiving with is not only lonely, but it is claustrophobic. I think we’ll leave it at that.
Fun Is More Wholesome These Days
When I *have* been able to see friends, I have had some very wholesome times. There have been bike rides, hikes, sleds, buckets filled with water in backyards for six person “pool” parties. Alone, I read, write, paint and arrange flowers. It all feels very 1950s. I miss getting shitfaced and falling off bar stools, but perhaps these days I am more evolved?!
I MISS WHIMSY!
To not know where a day will end up? Urrghh... THAT's living! These days I know who I'll see in advance of our encounter and I know I'll be inside my house by dusk. I love my friends with a fiery passion, but I miss the passion of the unknown quite badly.
I have always felt alive in the mountains, but I thought I needed to live in a city because I am a socialite, or something. Living in Toronto had been a constant joy to me since I moved here in 2015 but, for the first time, last year made me feel pretty anti-urban. I rented a few cars and definitely did my fair share of getting TFO, but if this ever happened again I would like to live by the ocean or in the mountains. Yeah, we have parks, but there is no wilderness for me to lose myself in. Plus our DENSE population means that we have been locked down longer than most other parts of Canada.
Jeans ARE actually great
If you had talked to me 360ish days ago, I might have claimed the only good thing to come from isolation was a lack of social pressure to be seen in a jean, but talk to me now and I’ll tell you I’ve got love for hard pants. I’ve also been living in Canada so long that saying “pants” no longer makes me want to jump up inside myself and die, which is interesting because Past Me would have claimed clinging on to “trousers” was a hill she was prepared to die on. I guess we need to stop dying on hills, because if we laid down our swords long enough we’d probably feel pretty chill about most things. Not to say I feel “chill” about jeans; they will always be divisive. My thoughts on the matter depend on who I am today. Sometimes I don’t want to be restricted by the ironclad clutch of denim, sometimes I would love nothing more than to squeeze into my skin tight, high waisted honeys. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they make me feel like a sexy bitch. Overall, I am glad they exist when I want them to.
Bras on the other hand; fuck ‘em. I have never been anything close to buxom and amid the pandemic I became pretty glad for my small (BUT FANTASTIC) boobs. The only reason I’ll wear a bra these days is if I am aiming for a certain...er...shape (?!) in a post or a video, then it’s straight off again. Fuck bras, they are awful. In the past 365 days I have probably supported my bust for a grand total of about two weeks, and that’s only when I am seeing other humans. Let them be free! (Although talk to me in a few weeks/ months when this single bae is out of lockdown and wants to muster a good cleavage for the prowl. They are good at...smooshing them together in an aesthetically pleasing way)
I Really Do Wear Make-up “For Me”
Unlike bras, makeup is for my benefit. There were a few weeks at the beginning of the pandemic when I knew I was depressed because I wasn’t making an effort. I wore a jumper and leggings all day and not a scrap of makeup in sight. When I started making the time to do my face and hair, I felt like “me” again. It is a ritual. Looking good makes me feel good, regardless of if I am leaving the house.
Switching My Phone Off
Remember when I wrote a book? I did that in a cupboard while I hid my phone down the back of the sofa. That was the only way it was happening. The internet is loud, but when it is our only connection to the outside world, it is near impossible to tear ourselves away from our phones. I guess I am using the royal “we” there. Maybe you don’t feel that way, but I do. Sometimes I try to use my phone as a vehicle for connection but it ends up sucking me into a black hole of less than desirable news and social media observation. The internet can be draining and sometimes I need it gone. I shut off my phone battery to recharge my brain battery until I can handle the noise again.
I have been on exactly one (1) date in the covid era because, um...well...it’s a bit fucking awkward, right? Lockdown era dating means meeting somebody in a park, walking about a bit and wondering if you should have both agreed to bring a hip flask. Then, when one of you inevitably needs to pee, you go your separate ways. Either way, it’s all done and dusted by sunset. HOW IS THIS LIFE?! I DID NOT SUBSCRIBE. I say this in good grace, but how the fuck are you supposed to know if you fancy someone while you’re both wearing bobble hats and parkas, and you have to stay in perpetual motion because if you stop moving one of you will freeze to death in the Canadian winter? Let me get pissed over too many pints of craft beer at a boujee brewery, call my date a twat because I’m British and that’s what we do, and if they can’t handle it then it probably won’t work out. Let us engage in an impromptu snog down a back alley, THEN let me decide how I feel about them because, truly, that is the only way to know.
Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
Actually, let’s not. I have never been one to kiss and tell, but I will say this: I am tired of looking in the mirror knowing these are my goddamn good years and that I am the only one enjoying them. What utter bollocks. I have never been a social media exhibitionist when it comes to my bod because I feel it really does attract the unwanted perverts, however this whole situation is making me rethink my stance. Plus I’d probably get a bunch more followers… I AM JOKING. CHILL. But also, arrrgh.
I’m A Million Different People From One Day To The Next
Covid has been a Bittersweet symphony for our time...but with a heavy emphasis on the bitter. I already knew that I wasn’t one fixed “Rebecca” before this went down, but lockdown has really reinforced to me that my personality can be a swing state. I am naturally predisposed to joy and I am heartened to know that a fucking pandemic hasn’t changed that. That said, I can still be a completely different person morning, noon and night. Mostly I take things in good humour, but holy shit I’ve had some lows. It has been helpful to think of my moods as like weather. Based on the available information, I can forecast a good day or a bad, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t always subject to change. Thankfully, like the weather, I know that bad moods don’t last forever; they’re just passing through.
Feeling Good is my Job and Duty
To expand on the above, I now take being in a good mood extremely seriously; shit only gets done if I am happy. I never thought about working for joy before, but now I do everything in my power to put myself in a good headspace. Looking nice is one thing, and making my living space comfortable to be in is another. I know that too much internet makes me feel bad and that if I don’t walk 10,000 steps I feel grotesque. I can’t let the covid apathy get me. It takes discipline to do all of the things I know make me a better me so, diligently, I try my best to stay on top. This is a big reason that I think I’ll avoid any further attempts at Covid dating; I can’t introduce any layer of uncertainty when I need to keep my moods sunny. That isn’t to say if a total easy-going bae strolled on into my life I would tell them to GTFO, I just don’t want to risk encountering anyone shifty!
Some people protect themselves by being cautiously pessimistic. I can’t play that game; I always expect the best. Sometimes that means my feelings get hurt, for example each-time a lockdown is extended I have to retreat to my bed for an hour or two to recover… but honestly, I am just glad I HAVE feelings. I WILL NOT BE SUCKED INTO GREY DESPAIR. Moaning “I told you so” might feel really gratifying, but things WORKING OUT is a joy far more worth revelling in. I get knocked down, I get up again. That’s the only way to climb, baby. Life in full colour, forever.
OKAY I think I have wanged on for QUITE long enough there. Maybe you’ll read this all, maybe you won’t. That’s okay. It felt good to say it.
365 days down, and things ARE getting better. We’re on the up. The wheel is turning, honey, so pour yourself a drink, buy some fucking daffodils and let’s give our adult colouring books one last hurrah. It won’t be long until the summer of love and this little optimist is planning her best outfits for dancing. Obviously none involve bras.
OVER AND OUT!