A year ago, it emerged. The week it was gaining traction, becoming news, becoming a big deal, I visited three cities in three corners of the country, spoke to a hundred people a day, one-on-one, then back to Cornwall, then back to London the next morning for a gig. Standing gig crammed in with some-thousand other people shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder with drinks and drugs and stifled immune systems we danced and shouted and screamed altogether. I was sick for a week; I blamed the coke.
There were plans in place. Visit the city I was moving to, find somewhere to live. Another gig a few hours’ train from where I lived, a stay in an Airbnb. France for two weeks, visit my parents. End of uni course dinner, awards ceremony moved to Zoom. Graduation? We laugh and pop champagne in the silverfish-ridden living room of my student flat instead.
photo: parker shatkin
June, they tell us. Weddings back on, social-distanced stadium shows to go ahead. The vaccines are cascading down through vulnerability groups, round one near covering all those most at risk, now. My aging grandparents, my pharmacist sister, shot up ready for round two. The kitten born mid-lockdown confused bemused when we dared leave the house. She knows nothing but us home all hours all days.
June, they tell us. I don’t trust a word that comes from their mouths. Corrupt incompetent one of the richest countries in the world with the highest death rate. They insist they did their best herd immunity vital contracts needed to save millions given to mates from school who don’t have a clue. Thousands die from summer freedom packed restaurants bars beaches the park packed in the sun on a Friday evening I run through it part of the problem and we’re back locked inside in time for fall browsing the homeware aisle of the supermarket to grasp at the straws left of normality.
It’s been the same week on repeat for a year, no escape unable to move forward or back or even to straddle awkwardly sideways to the next path along. Can’t make plans they’ll just be cancelled. It’s life on pause, the death of a year. I age, I remember, I move, I change, I feel stuck. It’s the year that so much happened while nothing happened and all those conversations from history class wondering if we’d ever live through history came to fruition and we discovered how goddamn boring it is to live in interesting times.