The COVID Diaries: So What Now?

I miss the feeling of taking off in a plane. That rush of noise filling yours ears and the lurch in your stomach as you leave the ground. The feeling that no matter where you’re going, there is something unknown coming your way—the good kind of unknown, not the kind we have right now.

I suppose life always has bad unknowns, we just don’t my know it, right? But when you travel you wish and hope that there will be tasty and surprising treats just around the corner. I miss this sort of unknown, the delightful unknown, the joy of something deliciously new and beautiful. But instead we have the unknown of when we might get sick, when the world will be normal again, or what other bad thing might happen in the world next. When I started writing this post the war in Ukraine wasn’t even a thing. See what I mean? 

Lately everyone I talk to has had a similar story—that the things they did for the last two years to stay sane aren’t working anymore. Some people are starting new hobbies, or dusting off old ones or saying, “screw it” and jumping on planes to Mexican beaches because the benefits outweigh the risks. Some governments are making it seem like the pandemic is actually over (yes, Boris I’m talking to you.) Our wells are drained and we don’t know where to get fresh water.

I decided in January to try to make small, achievable goals and be consistent about them. I miraculously completed a 30-day yoga challenge and also decided to refresh my German by using the Duolingo app every single day. It’s nothing earth shattering but I’d like to think that maybe these things are making a small difference in my life. It’s now almost March and apparently, “post this blog post” should have been one of my small, achievable goals as well. I’ve since added, “write every day” to this list.

I have to say, I never realized how much fun I could have practicing German. There, I said it. I’m enjoying German. Only my other expat friends will truly understand the weight of this pronouncement. Just read my blog post about it to learn how I felt about my language learning experience at the time. But, it triggered something in my brain that combines not one, but two things I love —my memories of living in Hamburg, Germany and my love of learning languages. The dopamine rush is real and as good as Candy Crush. Who knew? 

In this daily mini rush of dopamine I find myself swirling in a sea of nostalgia and memory. I can visualize walking down the streets in the Schanze neighbourhood in Hamburg on a Friday night out with my friends and it feels like more than a memory—it’s now a visceral experience that I’m dipping back into and bathing in. I can practically taste the cheap and delicious German beer, hear the sounds of Northern German floating around in the background and most importantly, feel the excitement of what is about to come. 

Because for me living in Hamburg was like that all of the time. Pre-COVID it was a city where anything could happen at any moment. You walk around the corner and discover a free film festival. After work you go for a casual drink with a friend and by three in the morning you’re at an underground art gallery and you have a glittering cowboy hat on your head that was gifted to you by a friendly Japanese guy. The ordinary so easily turned into the extraordinary, or at least the memorable.

These days I find myself completely lost a lot of the time. A colleague of mine referred to life these days as living a “half-life” and this is exactly how it feels. Now this may not be Mad Max style end of days, but it has been apocalyptic in many ways and we’ve all gone through trauma. Here we are emerging back into the world, but we’ve forgotten how to live in it and the threat hasn’t totally gone away. I’m dipping my toe back in here and there, but the water is still too cold for me a lot of the time. I want to get back to 2019 Kristi. I want to feel like my whole self again. I want to have at least a bit of energy again and ideally I’d love to not have migraines every single week. And I really would love world peace. Is that too much to ask?


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