Saturday 06 June 2020

I hate to ask, but just how bad is the lockdown, really?

Photo: Molly Quell

This could very well be the least popular article to ever appear on the DutchNews.nl website. I am prepared to be run off the internet for what I am about to say.

I’m enjoying the lockdown.

I don’t mean I am enjoying the pandemic and all the havoc it has wreaked. I am not a monster. I am, however, surprisingly comfortable being shut in my house for going on two months now.

Let me get the large caveat out of the way. I don’t have children. My work has been unaffected. My partner’s work has been unaffected. We enjoy being around one another. We have a lovely house with a garden. In short: we’ve got the best possible pandemic scenario.

‘Regardless, it’s like we’re all stuck in a weird social experiment; our lives on hold and all of us just sitting and waiting for either life as we once knew it to return, the entire global economy to collapse, or our lives to be upended by illness,’ wrote my colleague Brandon a few weeks ago.

Maybe it’s something about having moved so often or having done so multiple times with very little notice, but I am not feeling as though my life is on hold. This is just my life now. Maybe it will be different in two weeks or two months, but for now, it is how it is. And actually, I am kinda loving it.

Sourdough and more

I’ve baked countless loaves of bread since the world shut down. I was fortunate enough to have stocked up on flour and some other baking essentials before the supply chains collapsed, so I have been baking constantly. Much to the annoyance of some of my Twitter followers.

Photo: Molly Quell

Many of the easy weeknight meals my boyfriend and I would throw together have disappeared from the menu, replaced by ever more complicated and time-consuming concoctions that we now have the time to prepare. No more store-bought pasta sauce or pesto, it’s all being made from scratch.

I am enjoying having the time to try out new recipes and perfect old ones. I had no idea bread baking was so easy. Even taking care of the sourdough starter is easy, don’t let hipsters in Medium posts tell you otherwise.

Household to-dos

Honestly, the thing that I’m most worried about these days (other than dying alone in an IC unit and my country of origin actually turning into the dystopian novels of my teen years) is running out of house projects.

It’s been nearly two years since my boyfriend and I bought our house. Renovations have been ongoing since. Who knew there were so many things that could go wrong? The list of projects we had planned was already coming to a close before the world shut down but having no social life has accelerated that progress.

We’ve repaired and replaced and upgraded nearly everything at this point. I bought 48 spice jars and labeled all of our spice. Rebuilt a hundred-year-old French city bench I got for ten bucks. Upgraded smoke detectors. Vacuumed out the cellar.

Photo: Molly Quell

While on our nightly dog walk, we walked past the window of a real estate agent advertising houses for sale. ‘That’s really cheap, he said, pointing at a house twice the size of ours on a fancy street in the city centre. ‘We could buy that and fix it up.’

Finally, some niksen

Really, though, the best part of the lockdown has been that classic and purely Dutch pastime of niksen. Literally, the art of doing nothing.

Of course, I’m not actually doing nothing. I’m not a trust fund baby with a drug problem. I’m just not overscheduled. Some of my social engagements, like my book club, have moved online but I’m joining less frequently, preferring to spend my time working on a jigsaw puzzle or taking a long walk with my dog (or arguing with people on Twitter, don’t judge me.)

In fact, I’m slightly dreading when the measures are fully lifted. Do I tell people I’ve transitioned from social butterfly to introvert? Pick fights with most of my social circle to cull friends? I like them, I think we should just limit our contact to What’s App and the occasional quick chat from across the street while I’m walking the dog.

The end is in sight

But restrictions are being eased. Bars will soon reopen, although only with outdoor seating. Restaurants as well, with more space between the tables. Before I know it, birthday parties will no longer be held on Zoom, and ballerinas can stop dancing in the street and start dancing on the stage.

While Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge are busy trying to figure out how to get enough tests, I need to figure out how I can keep my lockdown lifestyle when the demands (and temptations) of the outside world return.

There are upsides to the end of the lockdown. I really, really need a haircut.

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