It’s my photo this week. The picture shows part of the Rouge River near Toronto Zoo. It’s a beautiful place and feels a lot like freedom on day trips from the city. We take the kids often and let them paddle, climb and explore. It’s one of those places that is wonderful in every season. We went a lot this winter, when there was nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, but this particular story takes place back on the city streets, inspired by those bleak ‘eyes’ staring out of the image.
Toronto has had the longest lockdown in North America (one of the longest in the world; depending how you measure it); as we gradually lift restrictions, it’s clear that lives have been saved, but you only have to talk to a few people to learn the cost of the lockdown. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have done it, I’m just saying we need to acknowledge the losses and find ways to minimise their effects.
It’s our designated hour for walking.
I remember the first weeks, when we skipped in the Spring sunshine, enjoying the freedom and the fresh air on our faces. We’d take chalk and leave trails for friends to follow. After our hour, we’d retreat inside, draw rainbows and paste them to our windows.
The rainbows are faded now. The sun’s shining, but we trudge. I catch a glimpse of a face pressed against the glass. His eyes are empty; he is young enough not to have known the Beforetimes. I wonder if he’s young enough that he will see the After.
56 responses to “FF – Lockdown”
Bleak and thought-provoking. Faces at the window are so powerful, aren’t they?
Especially at the moment – we see so little inside each other’s houses, but the windows give us a glimpse of something and it’s not always nice.
Scary commentary on the state of the world these days. Well done.
Thank you. I’m hoping we can give the kids a more ‘normal’ life this year. I’ve seen the effects of the lockdown on mine, for sure.
I have very strong opinions on the virus. I wont state them here I will just say you decribed it well.
Thank you, Ain. It’s certainly our truth.
Wonderful atmospheric piece and sorry it’s based on true circumstances.
Thank you; hopefully we will all live to see the After. Very soon.
I remember my short time spent in Toronto so well , so reading your flash was so sad. I
Sorry to make you sad, Michael. Toronto is a wonderful place to be, even in lockdown, but by golly it’s been quite a year.
A year we will all remember. Really like the story.
Defining, for sure, I just hope not in a bad way.
I identify with the change between the early days and the later, when is started to seem it would never end.
I’m glad it doesn’t feel that way to you now. I veer between feeling like it’s all over and fearing we’ll have another year of school closures and restrictions when cases inevitably start rising again
I didn’t know you’d had the longest lockdown. This was such an evocative story – reminding me of the first time I went out for the limited period of exercise we were allowed during the first lockdown. Silent roads, few people but those who were out crossing over to the other side when they saw you coming… surreal. Stay safe.
Thanks! Pretty safe here as our lokdowns have kept numbers pretty low (certainly by uk / usa standards). I remember that road crossing though – thank goodness we’ve stopped that at least
the idea of going back to ‘normal’ seems to pass from peoples lips very loosely. I think we do not want the normal of the past, look where it has got us. We need a real hard look at what needs to change for the better.
I think normalmeans different things to different people. The term ‘new normal has been massively overused too but perhaps fits better reform where we should be heading
So true. Tks
A situation we can all relate to, I’m sure. The isolation separates us in more than one way. And it takes the joy out of children’s and young people’s lives. It would be difficult to explain to the kids how they’re still priviledged.
They are still privileged and we were lucky by comparison to many, but that only makes me feel worse about what less fortunate kids have gone through
I don’t have kids, but I share the feeling.
Thanks for the pictorial inspirations! It works well for something else I’m writing, too.
Ooh, I’m looking forward to seeing that then!
I’ll let you know when I do
oops… continuing. we were lifting restrictions and now we’re re-instituting them. Ugh!
My biggest fear
As the variant is rearing its ugly head I wonder if we aren’t headed for another lockdown. As I write this I’m sitting in airport where the mask restrictions are being upheld. I didn’t think it affected me that much, in the face of a rerun, I find myself in a state of anxiety. Your story is well written and evocative.
Thank you, Rochelle. I fear we’ll have another lockdown without ever really coming out of the first one here. As you say, I don’t think it was clear at first how much it affected everyone. The longer it goes on, the more those impacts become apparent.
A clever take on the way things are. My little granddaughter has only ever known lockdown and face masks. She must think it’s the norm.
I hope she soon learns some of the freedoms the rest of us used to take for granted. My boys remember, but I’m not sure if that makes it better or worse to be honest.
after being in pandemic mode for almost two years now, i wonder it we’d be able to go back to what life used to be like. i want to believe.
We don’t need to go all the way back – I’ll wear a hazmat suit the rest of my life if my kids can learn and play with their friends in person. But I hope we’ll get there.
i love your positive attitude. may your tribe increase.
Such a good illustration of what lockdown has been like, how people have changed and have been changed. I get almost a science fiction feel from it – except that it’s real.
(I really like your photo too. An iced over pond always takes me to a happy place.)
I’m glad you like the photo, Jenne. And yes, we’re living through some sort of scifi nightmare at the moment, I’m sure.
I have often thought of what a strange time to be a child — I had nuclear and cold war (duck and cover) in my childhood nightmares. I hope your boys do get the chance to run and play like children again!
Here in the US, we are threading water; about to be swept by another wave. If only — now I won’t expound on my thoughts about this.
Your story is evocative and haunting — you captured in 100 words the emotions and realities of the last year and a half.
Each generation has its challenges for sure… which method of reacting to Covid is ‘right’ depends a lot on your priorities. Either way, I hope we all see an ‘after’ soon.
So, do I! Sending good, post-pandemic thoughts your way.
Oh that last line… before time and after… I wonder if it will ever be the same carefree existence? What will they remember ?
“Carefree” is exactly what’s missing. I don’t really mind is we all have to wear masks, what we need is consistency and faith.
In the US, we started opening up when people started getting vaccinated. Then, people stopped getting vaccinated and wearing masks, so COVID started spreading again. Now, the Delta variant is taking hold, so we’re going back to masks. It’s up to the public when this ends. When people stop being selfish and start being responsible, when people get vaccinated and wear masks long enough to stop it from spreading, that’s when this will end.
I didn’t know the picture was yours. Thanks for sharing.
People are NOT GOOD at stopping being selfish, in my experience. Individually, yes, but collectively, not so much!
Ah! The “beforetimes”, I loved that word. We just emerged from another two weeks lockdown. I still feel sane but I am old and have my work, it’s different for the young ones. It’s first year of uni for my youngest but online classes don’t give you that excitement that comes from the first year on campus.
I feel for the uni students – classes are only a tiny part of what makes that experience so valuable. Thanks for stopping by
Your right about a price to pay for lockdowns. A lot is said about business, but the psychological and social side are largely ignored.
That’s my point exactly. The economic costs are incredible and also probably will be bore by today’s children, but it’s the personal cost that worries me as this drags on.
The lockdowns have certainly been controversial, as your story reflects. No easy answers, and government handouts last only as long as people can still pay government taxes.
Ah, the joys of economics. I don’t think I’d have liked to study that particular subject!
Most of my students dreaded the idea of it, but changed their minds once we got into it. I did my best to make it practical, fun, interesting. Not always easy to do 🙂
Very skilfully written, Jen. The image of the small child looking out blankly is stark and evocative. Oldies like me owe a great debt of gratitude to the youngsters – the lockdown was mainly to protect us not them. I hope we never forget that.
I appreciate your gratitude, Penny. Sadly, a lot of people are busy blaming the young for outbreaks without acknowledging the other side of the equation.
What an intriguing story. I hope the narrator gets her wish, that there is an after.