I woke up late feeling as grey as the sky, my hamstrings aching from last nights stretch. I wished I could walk through the city and read my book on the train. Food offered me no comfort and I was struggling to make progress with work.
Mid-afternoon, I left home for the first time since arriving and went on a run. I thought I’d follow my old running route from when I was 16- a 2k loop to the sea and back, long enough to get some air but not too long that I felt like I was neglecting GCSE revision. Today however, I ended up staying out for over an hour.
I ran down my road, towards my old orthodontist but took an early right through the streets I once had driving lessons on. I ran past my family GP surgery as a car pulled into the driveway and across the main road to the leas. I slowed down for a few minutes to look at the sea- the water I had grown up by, rowed on, swum in til my toes lost colour every summer. It is the sight, sound and smell of home. Salty air that has rusted every one of my bikes and added flavour to the countless portions of chips I have consumed.
I ran down from the leas to my patch of the beach. It’s the perfect distance from the sea to swim, the rowing club to have a hot shower after and the fish and chip shop for food in the evening. I remember the summer my friends and I would meet there every morning and leave only after the sun had gone down, and they we’d cycle home as fast as we could, before it got dark.
When I was a bit older, that was where I would escape to after work. It was where I’d reunite with friends in between university semesters and where I said goodbye before moving to Germany. It is where I hope to celebrate when this is all over.
But today I sat there alone. I watched the waves lap the shore until I started to shiver- time to leave. My run back was greeted with smiles from strangers that said, ‘I know, this is a crazy time, stay safe’. I ran past an old family friend, celebrating her birthday quietly on the beach with a couple of school friends, as her first year at uni has been cut short.
I ran up one flight of stairs, and then another, and then up a zig zag path, briefly joined by a yapping puppy, until I reached the leas once again. I jogged a bit further and met my mum as she got off the bus by the GP surgery so we could walk home together.
After a nap I felt somewhat refreshed. I spent a fun hour with my sister in the evening, catching up on the gossip and convincing her to learn that toe-tapping tiktok dance with me (pls don’t judge). Dinner was spent with parents and my sister’s boyfriend while she volunteered for St. Johns Ambulance.
I’m ending the day feeling a lot better than I started. I have spoken to several friends recently who have voiced similar feelings of discontentment. I think it’s natural given the sudden ending to this part of our lives- one that most of us will never return to. Many, like myself, are staying home and are still healthy but we have all lost something, it’s okay to have a grey day. But don’t sit there alone for too long. Reach out, phone a friend and learn one of those tiktok dances because they’re actually really fun.
Stay sane, stay safe and wash your detty hands!
Lots of love,