Let me just address this from the jump: I certainly don’t want to move back into lockdown. For one thing, I’m not sure if New Zealanders could do it twice.
The display of national unity we witnessed on March 23rd when a nation of 5 million collectively prepared to batten down the hatches against the coronavirus, was remarkable. Decisions were made. Shelters were chosen. Rolls and rolls of toilet paper were purchased (but let’s not focus on that).
On the first day, Wednesday 25th March, we spoke of history. This is historic, we said. We’re a part of history. We said the same sorts of things on the second day. By the third day, we shut up a little.
The first weekend was weird. We wondered if people would stay indoors. We wondered if the folks in charge would still do a presser – we were starting to enjoy those.
We stayed inside.
And the numbers rose.
We stayed inside.
And the numbers dwindled.
We developed a crush on the Director-General of Health.
And then, somehow, against the odds, we were halfway through.
Against the odds, we’d established a routine.
The meandering local walk, once a Sisyphean chore, had grown into a simple pleasure.
All of our pleasures were becoming simple. All of our simplicities were becoming pleasures.
It was a real joy to buy takeaways again, but the onslaught of traffic on the road gave us a confused headache. Where were they all going? Why were people gathering for chats in driveways? Were there this many people on the street a week ago? We wondered if we’d get sick again. We wondered if more people would die. We still don’t know.
What we do know is that, for at least five weeks, we came together. We put teddy bears in our windows and peacefully crossed the street. We nodded at each other from across the road.
We also obsessively dobbed each other in, which was… unique.
I haven’t purchased my flat white yet – I’m waiting to say ‘have here’. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to hugging my friends. Ditto sitting on someone’s back porch with a cheap bottle of wine. But I have to say – rarely have I felt more connected to my community than I did during this lockdown.
While other, larger countries have suffered mass tragedy in the face of COVID-19, New Zealand appears to have successfully flattened the curve. It’s been messy, of course, and for some of our citizens, it has been tragic. But we have collectively tried our best to minimize the devastation.
We stayed home and we saved lives.
I do not want to go backwards. But it’s worth acknowledging what a remarkable sacrifice we all just made. I certainly hope it hasn’t been wasted.Support Villainesse