|Beautiful British Columbia|
I was born near the ocean and raised on the ocean. So when I thought I'd take a few days off this week I imagined going to the seaside...renting a little cottage and going on long walks along the coastal sea paths. But cottages in the UK are now as rare as loo rolls were at the start of the pandemic lockdown. so instead, I'm stuck in landlocked Bedfordshire, reluctantly on a staycation. I've found this week extremely hard. When I feel blue I normally book a trip or plan a day out with friends.
I'm normally a person of opposites. I'm somebody who is a recluse and a socialiate. I grew up sailing on a boat around the world, with no access to showers for weeks but I love glitz and glamour. I love the countryside and equally love London. I'm a homebody: I love decorating my home and filling it with lovely things, but I'm also a nomad, never staying long enough to build deep roots and I'll jump on a plane at the drop of a hat. I grew up doing DIY, getting myself messy with varnish and paint, but love to get dressed up in the fanciest dress and go to a champagne party in a Venetian palazzo or enjoy an awards evening on the red carpet but equally will still wield a power tool, rip up floorboards, and paint.
|Scrubbing the haul of the Swift, Australia, 1988|
But coronavirus puts us into boxes. Well, COVID doesn't but the measures of lockdown do. If you're a single person, you're stuck by yourself for weeks/months, without any chance of human interaction. If you're a parent, you're stuck with those kids 24/7. If you're a working mum-and worse off if you're a single working mum-you can't do both in COVID: you struggle to make those online meetings while your toddler clammers around teetering on some piece of furniture ready to crack their head open. At the moment the only thing I have in my diary are deadlines for the REF (Research Excellence Framework) as I'm Research Lead for the Art History submission: no holidays, no conferences abroad, no keynotes in exotic locales, no archival work in Italy. Coronavirus is making me be only one side of my job: the administrative, tick-the-boxes, side of things, not the researcher who finds knew things in the archives, not the art historian who gives talks around the world, not the innovator who produces films, working behind the scenes in exciting collections. It is also making my job the only thing to focus on, rather than all the other things that I am: apart from an art historian I am also a sister, daughter, friend, adventurer, sailor, traveller... I miss the other parts of me, and I don't like being one dimensional.
So what to do? I'm not sure. The only thing that has helped me is to go out to great expansive parts of the county where walking on the rooftops of Bedfordshire has made me feel as if I could be on a cliff looking down at the sea. With the wind in my hair, for a moment, I feel like an adventurer again, reminding me of my youth with the wind in my hair sailing around the world.
|When a wild bird landed on me somewhere off the coast of Central America, c. 1991|
So maybe the lesson to learn with COVID and today's #tinygoodthings is to have an imagination: if you can't be where you want to be, try something that makes you feel and imagine that you are there. Of I find another solution, I'll be sure to share it.