A Wedding Planner's Story in a time of Weirdness.
If you are reading this you are likely to feel as though recently you've been hit by a very large bus.
The world has changed in a matter of weeks into something unrecognisable. There is immense sadness and pain - and I send my love and best wishes to all those who have been affected by this virus. I don't think there is one person who I know who has not had some kind of negative impact on either themselves, their family or their livelihood. Its been shit, folks. But, there is also a weird beauty and a time for reflection. This is our new normal. There are things that must change and I, for one, am trying to embrace that.
I am not ashamed to say that for the first few week since the outbreak I was a mess. There were a lot of tears, there were arguments and there was panic: "How will we survive with no money coming in?", "What do I tell my couples when we know absolutely nothing?", and "How will we keep our sanity?"...I know I'm not alone. We have had home-schooling (even from an ex-teacher I can tell you that was odd), the panic buying (I don't think I'll ever understand some people's mentality to deprive the public from their essential things and I'm not talking loo rolls, although that is important, no I'm talking things like Paracetamol and Calpol); the unanswered questions about funding for what felt like ages, the hoops to jump through, the silence from the banks, PE lessons with Joe, Tic Toc, the purchasing of Super Noodles (I haven't eaten them since my Uni days, but felt that they were necessary with the absence of pasta), and my moment of panic: no PG Tips for almost a week. I felt un-hinged and very emotional with it ALL.
I am still emotional. I cry at the amazing efforts of Captain Tom, the sadness at the slideshow of faces that represent the now lost heroes of our NHS, and even found myself with actual snot-tears watching 'The Repair Shop' yesterday. These are important things to cry about, but in the case of the Repair Shop, it also shows how extra-sensitive I am at the moment. A friend of mine told me that she cannot sleep properly. I can sleep, but the vivid dreams I am having are certainly a window into my psyche.
There was a Time Before the Coronavirus...I know, it's hard to remember. The TBC was hectic. It was loud. It was hard to deal with sometimes. There was a struggle called 'Work/Life Balance' or something. It was a time when working parents struggled to not feel guilty about the amount of time they saw their kids. It was a time when we felt pressure to eat right, exercise enough, look right, smile, be feminine but strong, be masculine but sensitive, work hard, take care of our ageing parents, deal with our mental health and just manage.
We are now being forced to re-evaluate all of this because, if you are like me, when the lockdown happened, there was pretty much no work. No work means that I had to completely stop. This felt odd and a bit like I was on some kind of endless ride into a void, a kind of Malibu-inspired limbo, but my way to deal with it was to throw myself into completing tasks. Hubby and I spent each day in the garden - him on a digger and me with trowel in hand constructing a vegetable plot - and, once the grass seed grows, we are sure that it will look like something out of The Chelsea Flower Show. As the result of my efforts I now have some things growing. What they are I do not know, but my Instagram friends think it's either a) Spinach or b) Chard. Answers on a postcard please.
I just needed to take time off. My job is not utterly demanding and I don't mean 'take time off' in a sense that I had worked too hard, because I hadn't. My job is seasonal, so the winter months are slow. I can be at home and work off my laptop at my own pace, BUT my need to take time off was to do with my head. What we had overnight was an incredible shift, meaning that we had to pivot 360 degrees with no warning, no heads-up and, for someone that has anxiety and some of the other stuff, it was a shock. Unfortunately, my hubby also works in the leisure travel industry so here we had a double whammy. Both of us felt shipwrecked without even a paddle. We had to take stock of what had happened and support each other and man, I can tell you this was not easy. We told our kids what the situation was. Yes, they worried about where the bacon was coming from - literally - but they have been amazing. Kids are resilient. Probably more so than we give them credit for. We are honest about what's going on. They are clued up on the politics of it all, are genuinely empathetic for the suffering in the world and have kept us going with their insanity round the dinner table each day. Teenagers can be hard work, but they can also be amazingly good at raising spirits.
I had a conversation with one of them about the fact that this Covid business will end up being part of their kid's modern history curriculum in years to come. I asked one of them what they would tell their child about it:
"People will say that it was awful and probably remember the fact we had no bog roll, but we have spent time as a family, I've been on my bike and slept a lot. So I've been ok." Well, that's OK then.
The past few weeks have been life-changing. There has been upset and worry; stress and panic. But it has been a catalyst for change. It has made me realise what is important in life, who and what should be my focus, what the pace of my life should be and that it is important to stop and re-evaluate what makes us all happy.
I love the quiet on the roads. I love the pace of life. I love my family and friends more than I ever knew I could.
I have no doubt that the world will go back to its busy hustle bustle when this is all over. But I hope that we will all be changed as a result.