Life begins again

Note: the photos accompanying this post are completely random and unedited, other than the main Vegemite one, which was taken by my colleague at OTW, Niklas Lärka. You can’t see the Vegemite tube in this crop, which is unfortunate, but which I’m really too tired to do anything about. This weird photo explanation is probably better than my whole post, so maybe you should stop here.

It’s been fourteen months now since we first went into isolation. Covid numbers are higher than ever. 60 deaths, over 7,000 cases in the last 24 hours.

Stained shirt, greasy hair: a self portrait.

But the vaccinations are moving and the sun has begun to rise at a more sociable time of day. The crocuses and daffodils are blooming and I’ve graduated to my spring jacket and put my thermals away. I’m a few months into a new job, which I love, and which makes me feel human in a way I haven’t felt since pre-pregnancy. It’s rejuvinating, even if I’m at the office maximum once a week.

Life in Europe in a late but severe pandemic is tiring. We’re all so tired. It doesn’t matter what side of the intensely politicised sphere we sit in, everyone is just so sick of it all.

Maybe our only family photo.

I look to the other side of the globe and see my family and friends enjoying a relatively normal existence. Some days I long to join them, other days I try to close my eyes and pretend that life doesn’t exist. I haven’t seen my family since the Christmas before last and they’ve never met my youngest child, so sometimes it’s easy – despite the daily skypes and family facebook chat we update one another on almost constantly – to pretend Australia doesn’t even exist.

Outdoor dining and spilled coffee: happy signs of spring.

I thought about it yesterday when I received an invitation in the post to celebrate – online, of course – my newly minted Swedish citizenship in the annual ceremony. The way Australians are being treated by Morrison’s government, I’m pretty pleased to have another country to fall back on. We’ll temporarily ignore the fact my fallback country has let 14,000 citizens die without considering their approach to this pandemic might have been somewhat too lax. We’ll ignore that for now, because I have no energy left and everyone has already picked their side.

I spend a lot of time updating my Swedish friends, family and colleagues on Australia’s mouse plagues and bushfires, their quarantine system and human rights violations. I spend an equal amount of time telling my people back home about the numbers and the systems here. The crazy details of my new normal.

My main girl.

And we plod along and plug away at keeping our children fed, clean, happy enough. Alive.

I sit at my window and think of all the things I want to do when I finish work for the day and the kids go to bed. When I finally hear silence, and not Elsie’s weird rap version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in breathtaking Swinglish, I flake out and do none of the things I’ve spent the day longing to finally get a chance to do.

I flake out, stretch my aching muscles, and imagine our lives in several months.

A fair few months back now.

Felix and I – with significant financial assistance from my parents – have bought an apartment. In less than two months, we’ll move from up-the-hill-and-out-of-town to a three-minute walk from Elsie’s preschool, a seven-minute walk from Felix’s mum’s place, ten minutes from his brother, 20 minutes from my work, and generally smack-bang in the middle of the action.

A great tit, descending on the bait.

No more will Felix stick both kids in the bike trailer and cycle the 55-minute round trip up and down hills twice a day. No more will our only takeaway option be a tiny pizzeria that’s about to close down. By July, we may still be in a pandemic, but at least we will be conveniently located and hopefully no longer sleep with white noise playing at exactly the perfect balance to dull the sound of our downstairs neighbours fighting but also allow us to hear our children if they call out in the night. 

Really cold grass.

To say we’re counting down the days would be… technically incorrect. But it would illustrate the intensity of our longing.

In the meantime, we’re sitting tight, trying to keep out of harm’s way, taking the odd rash risk and looking out the window at the constant turning of the seasons.

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Lily Ray
Lily Ray

Journalist, photographer, traveller and knitter. Mother to a small but demanding infant, Lily's life is messy but generally lovely. She has a lot of thoughts. Here is where she puts them.

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