2020 could be considered the year of the introvert. My world went quiet once the doom and gloom from the social media news feeds and television broadcasts were, by choice, turned off. I observed the panic amongst the extroverts. Their life was about to be shutdown and shut out. To them, it felt like what seemed to be the end of the world.
For me, it was just the beginning. The city became empty. My favourite spots were now intimate. The skies no longer had a constant hum from airplanes and I could freely hear the birds chirping again. Strangely it appeared like everyone had moved away from the city and the bird life moved back in.
Thousands of people lost their jobs or took a pay cut. I fit into both of those categories at different times, however I knew I was going to be okay. I also quietly reminded myself for years I had been wishing and wanting for a four day work week. The universe certainly provided and garnished me with three. Isn’t it uncanny how things work out?
Evidently I was required to make some dire changes. Firstly, all my memberships and subscriptions were cancelled. Secondly, the capacity to live on my own was not an option. Within weeks, I had a flatmate who continued to travel to his deserted workplace. Sharing the living expenses in this time made the most sense. There was enough room for us both in my two bedroom two bathroom apartment however, almost grudgingly, this introvert preferred and enjoyed her own space.
I carefully thought about how to fill in my time during the COVID restrictions. I would work from home, start a herb and vegetable garden on my balcony, catch up on Netflix documentaries, bike ride, practise piano, continue with my decluttering, digitalise old travel photos and upload to Facebook or venture out on solo bushwalks nearby. Finally, for once in my life, I wasn’t expected or obligated to join large gatherings in business groups or friend circles. I’d be able to spend good quality one-on-one time with those who I care about the most. I felt like the time was my own.
I started to live even more simply. I felt happy and it was a pleasure to ride my bike more consistently with the freedom I had gained. There wasn’t a need to pay for fuel or parking because I didn’t have to go anywhere or be anywhere. My bank account remained healthy as there was no need for anything. It became an impossibility to get a haircut or have my nails done at a salon. There was nothing to spend my money on. All I had to do was cover my living expenses and food.
Interestingly, my food preparation became more creative. I found the time to walk to the fruit and vegetable market two blocks from my house. I would come back with loads of vegetables to make lasagne, enchiladas, quiche and fritters. All vegetarian of course! Honestly, I haven’t been unhappy about any of my experiences related to COVID, except the border closures and flight cancellations.
Border closures made it impossible to visit my family and friends only a four hour drive south into another State. I am very thankful for the technology of today to keep us close. Video and voice calls have been our saving grace. Whimsical filters lifted our spirits. I have missed quite a few milestones and celebrations which ordinarily wouldn’t have been the case.
I work in the travel industry. I chose this career path for my passion with learning and discovering new cultures, animals and landscapes. The flight cancellations are crippling and is crushing my dreams. Well, at least putting everything on hold for now. A few years ago I made myself a promise to travel somewhere new once at year. At the time, I was referring to international travel. Staying true to myself, I’ve discovered some places I haven’t been to closer to home. Wild Horse Mountain lookout at sunset was spectacular. The photos are amazing! Bribie Island in a 4WD driving along the beach highway felt like freedom. Riding to the end of the bike path in a southerly direction was an experience I probably will never need or want to do again. But I did it, and it was something different.
COVID has become a part of our history. A part we hope we will never need to experience again in our lifetime. A part where we felt so physically far away from one another. A time where we were all together apart.