23 January 2021

So what if we forget

Some climate change news I read once that said the UK will eventually stop having snow, but for the last three years, it seems to hit us hard every January. Last night, the kids came downstairs, asking if we could go out for a walk in it, and we did, in coats and pyjama bottoms and Naomi took pictures of us. The flakes were clumping together as they fell, fat and heavy like you get them when you're right on the edge of snow and rain. I think now, when I go out with my kids, that they are not quite kids any more, that they probably could have gone out by themselves and been okay. It's been seven years since we moved here and in seven years from now, Naomi will be twenty. Surely that can't be right, you find yourself thinking. This trick of ageing, where things speed up and slow down in random, terrible ways and you're old when just yesterday you were young. 

There's a liminal space between being a person with Covid and being a person who has had Covid. I was scheduled to give blood on Thursday, but when I went up the stairs, I was greeted by a banner saying you couldn't donate if you had had a fever or continuous cough or loss of taste or smell in the last 28 days. I stood in the threshold of the door and spoke to the woman holding the clipboard and said, 'I've just seen the sign and I have had, or I mean, I had Covid in the last 28 days, I don't have it now, but it's not been 28 days since I had it.' She crossed my name off the list and I left feeling like I had broken the rules. 

I haven't had symptoms in the last 18 days, or at least the main ones. My smell and taste have come back, I think, although I can't tell sometimes, like when they put new carpet in the loft now, I assume I should be able to smell something but don't smell anything. Perhaps then, according to the sign, I still have Covid. 

Before I had Covid, or before I knew I had Covid I was also not sure if I had it — I was just hungover, I thought, having had Christmas whiskey and trying to stay healthy doing some ridiculous in-home YouTube workout led by a man much stronger than me. Then it was a few days and I had sweat through my clothes a second night and went off to get tested. When I came home, I kept my mask on in the house and Mia moved out of the unfinished loft that I had been painting just a week before and I set up the folding table with my computer and the gymnastics mat and stayed there for the next week, working and sleeping and sorting out different things for the house that needed sorting.

In the end, I never got very sick, not the way that you hear about people struggling to breathe or move around their homes, but there were moments when it was suddenly very real, like a fever that turns to a chill and then you are shaking uncontrollably, and you need to lie down until it stops. Or waking up in clothes that are wet like you could wring them out in the sink. Or lying down and suddenly feeling pressure on your chest. You feel fine or fine enough, but why go to sleep when months ago you had read a news story about someone, a young person, having a brain aneurysm. Because you're young, that's how you die. Your face goes numb, or you think it has gone numb. You can't smell, but what even is a smell, you begin to wonder, how would you know if you could smell, how often do you notice smells anyway at midnight alone in your room. 

Then, all of it went away. I was up and running a week after the symptoms were gone, slow and fat of course because I have been eating all my stress now for several months, but I could breathe. And then I did several long runs and started my marathon training again. It was all normal, the electrician came and then the carpenters, and the bed delivery and all the things that had been on hold came back. It snowed, and Yoko and I went for a walk, trying not to slip, trying to make some plans for another year of uncertainty. The world is small for everyone now I guess, I said. It doesn't bother me, I've had enough anyway. We stopped at the road to look for traffic, and walked across, arm in arm like old people, like people with kids who can be left at home. Surely that can't be right, but it is.