the day the week-ended
flashback friday (pre-lockdown)
Flashback to a prematurely midnight blue sky, precariousness filled the air as the nine to fivers cradled their toilet paper bulk buys to their chest as if comforting a small child. Lockdown was imminent and the city chorused with curiosity. Anxiety echoed through telephone screens, instant messages and website refreshes.
‘It’s going to be okay.’
The peaceful moon boasted a perfect crescent between boat sails and the cranes of the Bristol Harbourside.
Busy bodies seemed busier, commuters looked confused - the air of uncertainty blanketed the city like a thick, transparent fog. Nobody knew how to behave or how many packets of pasta to purchase.
Flashback to a pre-lock down Friday evening. I’d left floor five of the high rise building, a light shone reluctantly in the manager's office as he scratched his head and switched slides to discuss the setbacks of sending people to work from home.
I’d usually be head down in my phone, wishing the girls ‘happy fri-yay!’ and asking which pub we’d be meeting for a red wine or three. But the sky distracted me, its intense blue running silk-like into an ombre of pastel peach and burnt orange was welcomed by my peripheral vision as though a perfect stranger or a long lost love.
Flashback to that still moment - as I stood on the bridge between heritage train tracks and the coffee shop creperie, just minutes away from the sign on the door being flipped to close. I reached into my backpack and battled off tupperware lids, impulse buy receipts, tangled headphones and house keys to find my phone. I wanted to take a photo of the momentous sky. Usually fearful of what passers-by would think of a person standing stagnant, snapping the stratosphere to use as fodder for a deceiving insta-feed - this particular evening I didn’t care. Perhaps, I knew things were about to change - I needed the sky to remind me that I was grounded.
I needed the image on my phone to remind me of the evening that everything was to change. I continued to walk home through the packed with panic streets. We hadn’t quite reached Spring, and the remnants of Winter still made the hairs on my body stand up in disagreement. I was wearing my grey winter coat and back ankle boots. Strange looking back to this, the lock-down forecast has since dressed us in hot skin, sun cream and summer shorts.
My tea lights flickered frantically on the oak coffee table, and the incense created a scented smog, the smoke changing its course of direction in my dimly lit living room. The oven hummed at 200c but I couldn’t think forward enough to decide what to cook. I’d normally pay a visit to a street vendor or indulge in some Friday night pub grub at the Full Moon pub. Everything seemed unsure of its place this particular evening. Including myself.
Flashback to a week before, revelling in the satisfying glugging sound of red wine being poured. Unbothered to queue at the bustling bar to ask for another wine glass without an imprint of crimson lipsticked lips. Instead I used my sleeve to wipe off the Rimmel remnants before toasting to the girls, meeting their eyes with gratitude for three friends to cheers with and two days off from telephones and never emptied email inboxes. The ever increasing murmur of voices, a plethora of tones, pitches, accents, laughter, gasps, breaths…life! The exaggerated stories of the weeks preceding, the curious inquisitions in to family members, the calculations of ‘last seens,’ the ‘whatever happened to' ponders, the ‘you wouldn’t believes’, ‘you’ll never guess what’s’ or ‘who’s’,’ the chorus of cheers when the barman drops a pint glass, the smell of home cooked chips, the ignorance of the hot frantic kitchen, the sticky residue of ale along the bar. The countless contactless card transactions, the tear of the receipts, the exchange of change and smiles, the accidental slamming of the till drawer, the sound of ice being scooped into glasses, the contemporary gin selection, the envy for the irritatingly pretty bar woman, the table that offers you their spare seat. The human embraces, the high fives, hand holds, shoulder taps, fist bumps, hair ruffles, the ‘excuse me’s’ the ‘you go ahead's, the coy smiles and shy eyes.
Flashforward to my sofa. The oven still hummed with hunger and my stomach started to too. Pubs were announced to be closed the next day but it would feel wrong to go tonight. It woudn't offer the same guilt free, joyous, communal atmosphere and care free collective I was so used to. And anyway, I figured I had to get used to what it felt like to be in my own company for a while.