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  • Milena Williamson

Lockdown Life Days 51-100

July 1st is the day we thought would never come. 100 days of lockdown in Belfast. And while it's not really 'lockdown' anymore, because many shops have since opened up, I'm still trying to understand how the lockdown mindset transforms into a life mindset. People wearing masks, long queues with gaps between people, plexiglass barriers in shops, and more. What's 'normal,' or more importantly, what's the feeling that replaces normality-- a mix of anxiety, joy, and uncertainty at being 1 m away from a friend or navigating crowds of happy picnickers in Botanic Park.


Day 53: May 15th 2020 Home salon day for my housemate and me. This picture is very Sweeney Todd, but I swear that’s a comb I’m holding.



Day 55: May 17th 2020 Zoom-ba with friends from Oberlin College.


Day 58: May 20th 2020 Rediscovered a school assignment on my laptop called ‘The Life Project.’ We had to find a house currently on the market (well in 2007), calculate rent and car payments, pick a profession, make a budget etc. For example, my ‘monthly entertainment expenses’ were $30 for movies and $20 for ‘entertaining friends.’ My 13-year-old-self planned for me to buy a house in Swarthmore, my hometown. I could never have imagined my life at 25-- in Belfast and living through a pandemic.



Day 59: May 21st 2020 Reading on the QUB lawn.



Days 60s-ish: End of May 2020 I wrote and submitted several applications, so it's a bit of a blur. Now I’m considering going on application-vacation (stay tuned for a blog post on this, let’s make app-vac happen).


Day 74: June 5th 2020 In another life, the Belfast Book Festival would start today and I’d be busy attending events, buying books, and meeting writers.


Day 77: June 8th 2020 My mother’s birthday! I’m missing home and singing a song by the Beatles for her today.


Day 80: June 11th 2020 Second time using Microsoft Teams for a PhD supervisory meeting.


Day 84: June 15th 2020 Reading on the ‘terrace’ otherwise known as our front steps.



Day 86: June 17th 2020 In another life, I would be flying from Dublin to Philadelphia to see my family. Instead, my housemate and I did a big day of spring-cleaning.


Day 88: June 19th 2020 Walking in the rain.



Day 94: June 25th 2020 My parents’ anniversary. Thirty-one years together and still going strong. In another life, I’d be having a cozy dinner at home with them. Instead, my housemate and I did a Facetime photoshoot, thanks to the wonderful Melissa McGuigan. It was one of the nicest days of the summer so afterwards we walked to the Ormeau Road for coffee and charity-shopping.



Day 95: June 26th 2020 In another life, I would be seeing Harry Styles in Philadelphia with my housemate. We would be singing and dancing our hearts out. I would get to show her around my hometown—going to the farmer’s market and the college arboretum. I’d take her to Staples for pens, CVS for candy, and Michael’s for craft supplies. There would be dinners with friends old and new.


Day 100: July 1st 2020 Watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream online to celebrate 100 days of lockdown. A year ago I saw this production in person with my mother at the Bridge Theatre in London.



Ciaran Carson writes, 'And I remember how its garden of sweet peas and roses was / surrounded by barbed wire.' What will I remember when I look back on this time of my life? The enduring friendships, the unusual arts and crafts projects, the way I vehemently weeded my back garden when I didn't have words for my feelings. There will always be good days and bad days, roses and wires. It will be ok. Today I believe it. And tomorrow I will try to believe it again.


Sending love an ocean away!

Milena Williamson is a poet and PhD candidate at The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast.

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