Sunday 29 March 2020

Going Out For a Cry

It's mad how going for a walk is now the absolute highlight of my day. 

I'm discovering places in my city I never even knew existed, and planning adventures to exciting, exotic and distant (yet not too far from home) lands.

Alongside a good walk, I've also discovered the joys of: crying! 

And even greater still is the combination of the two.

This pertinent discovery was made a couple of days ago, when the sun remained beaming rather rudely, and after losing my morning to an unpleasant storm of anger and frustration, I decided to go 'for a run'. I put on the new Dua Lipa album because everyone seemed to be saying it was good (and they really weren't wrong), and started pounding pavement toward the beach. 

The seafront was rammed with couples and families practicing 'social distancing', carving their solitary paths through the throng of other people all desperately trying not to acknowledge that this probably constituted a crowd. 

With my limbs preoccupied and glossy synthpop bangers blasting in my ears, it was as though the unruly siblings of my mental and physical self were finally distracted enough to let my emotions come tumbling through, and I just burst into tears.

And it was glorious! Not a single person seemed to notice or care, and if they did, they either deeply related and understood, or the fact that I was sniffling and snotting was enough for them to give me even wider berth so I could continue on, undeterred. It's not that I was sad, exactly, or even really crying about anything specific. It just seems to be the only way to break the strain of overwhelm that's hitting from every angle on a daily basis. I read a profound article the other day that said this horrible feeling we're all experiencing is, in fact, grief. So I let it all out. I grieved for the past, I grieved for my life and everyone else's, and I grieved for the loss of human life the world over.

By one full listen of the album I'd regained a little composure, reaching the point where the promenade is abruptly cut short by the big white walls of a luxury complex. The gated community, (complete with own private beach) is known locally as 'Millionaire's Row', and is famed for housing a bunch of celebrities and the super rich. A car with blacked-out windows crawled past me as I stood admiring the buildings, and I wondered who was coming to take shelter here, knowing with a slight sad smugness that it wouldn't make a difference.

By the time I started heading back a few police cars had parked up, with officers gently moving people along and reminding them we are, in fact, supposed to be in a government quarantine. Most people seemed compliant enough, with the odd grouchy frolicker marching off with crossed arms. One memorable sight was a bejewelled, glamorous old lady sat on a bench with a glass of what looked like champagne, dismissing a police officer with a devastatingly casual waft of the hand, refusing to have her afternoon disturbed. 

It reminded me of my friend Millie, and how she'd broken the rules a few nights ago turning up at my house in the dead of the night, glass of wine in hand. Knowing I was feeling down and desperate for a friend, she coerced me into going on a responsible and socially distant walk with her, which constituted about 15 laps of my street, smoking cigarettes we definitely shouldn't have and chattering all our woes into the night sky. It was the precise dose of normality I needed to feel sane again. When we parted, we knew it was probably the first and last time we'd be able to do this, but like optimistic lovers after a one night stand, we promised to do it again soon.

Things I've learned the true value of this apocalypse: walking, crying, friends. (And wine)