It’s not helped by the weather. I mean, it’s definitely that time when you start thinking about getting away. Dawn chorus is actually getting louder; maybe it’s just the contrast. I mean, there’s nothing happening.
Anyway, that’s the time for me. We always used to set off then. Car was packed, evening before, and then we’d eat something. And I mean something; Mum was always thrifty – Dad said ‘Mean.’ So, whatever was left in the fridge was cooked and eaten, then off to bed, too excited to sleep. Eyes shut, make it pass quicker, then woken by my dad saying “Shhhh, it’s time.” We’d dress in that curious garb only worn for holidays. Dad’s weird trousers that had zips just above the knees so they converted into badly fitting shorts. Then downstairs without breakfast, off through the empty streets. How long before we see another vehicle?
Like now. The rumble behind all the other sounds is gone. But we are still waiting to go away, to escape, to be released, for the summer, vacation, va-ca-tion?
Well it seems more vacant than a holy day. I mean, the next step is unlikely to be a celebration. It is not a return. The new normal is not so easy to shed; it has to be tailored to fit the circumstances. We’ve not been here before, and this journey is not a reversal – more a gradual course adjustment, a slight curve. People say ‘when it’s over’ but can it be? Over the horizon perhaps? Which means we might glimpse further ahead. Are we there yet? Yes, we’re always there. Is there a real ‘us’? Maybe the immediate household.
The family has, for some, returned to staycation; children are suddenly familiar with family. For some, this will be a positive discovery; for others it will be ‘domestic.’ For some, it will be duty or servitude as carers; for others solitary ‘lives in parallel.’ Our main community is. in many cases. now digital and is itself fragmented.
So, which ‘us’ are they briefing? Who is in it together? The death rate among the solitary and the marginal has risen, the rest shunted into a virtual world in which social relations are through a screen, muffled, partial, and easily monitored. Does this contribute to a sense of disempowerment; of being done unto? It might be a contributory factor to recent rise in active protest. Is that where ‘we’ need to be next?