opinion

'Melbourne is not a city divided. We're just suspended in collective grief.'

Today I decorated spoons with my children. Yes, spoons. For Spoonville. 

Spoonville is a village of spoons that was created in our community in Melbourne, because we are desperately trying to find ways to fill the endless days in lockdown. 

So we found wooden spoons, we decorated them, placed our masks on and went for a walk in the limited time we are allowed out to exercise. 

Watch: When Daniel Andrews extended lockdown. Post continues below.


Video via Sky News

As I looked around Spoonville, I could see a reflection of this lockdown. I saw spoons with masks drawn on. Spoons donning medical scrubs and capes. Spoons just standing quietly side by side, not touching but united together. 

I saw optimism in the sparkles and the glitter. An invisible hand reaching out, a shared connection, a sense of community. 

Children doing what they do best. Providing us with hope. 

I saw myself in those spoons. Just trying to stay upright, quiet, waiting. 

I squeezed my child’s hand as I fought back the tears. "Great," I thought. "Now I’m crying at f**king spoons."

Melbourne is a city suspended in collective grief.

We are not here by choice, but here we are. Riding the wave. Isolated. Traumatised. Trying. Trying to get through the months, the weeks, the minutes. 

Living in limbo. Too painful to look to the past, unable to plan for the future. 

A friend called me from interstate to check in.

"Wow, things are getting ugly there. You guys are really turning on each other," she remarked. 

I was shocked. 

“How would you know?” I replied. I felt the bitterness in my tone and I immediately regretted it. 

My anger wasn’t directed towards her. It was towards the portrayal the media was once again peddling. Claiming to represent me and the place I live.

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Determined to further divide us all for the sake of clicks.

Simply put, it is hard enough. 

Doing this, is hard enough. But we ARE doing it. The numbers show we are overwhelmingly in favour of the lockdown. The vast majority of us are enduring what we must, to achieve the end goal. 

We have withstood a loss on a mass scale. 

Yet we have still managed to put one foot in front of the other every day. 

We have had to watch while the rest of Australia has moved on. To see friends post photos of their children heading back to school. To sit with lumps in our throats while we see cafes reopen and people gather in groups. We have bared witness to people returning to the new normal. 

Yet we are still here, waiting. Living in a strange space between despair and gratitude. Doing what needs to be done.

I feel dignity and pride in telling my children that we are doing something very important. We have no armed guards standing outside our doors. 

We are doing this for love. Love for our people. Our community. Our country. We are building and creating a shield to protect our most vulnerable. 

It is hard enough to maintain this shield without having to see a completely different scene play out online. To have our isolation compounded by the fact that not only are we unable to physically see our fellow Australians, we are not accurately being seen.

It is infuriating and disheartening to encounter a perception in such polar opposition to reality.

To read the headlines that show the small number of people who refuse to wear masks. A picture of a city in chaos, disillusioned by our government and screaming to be let out. Protests in the streets. Pregnant women getting arrested. Viral videos of people getting around checkpoints and breaking the law.

It’s the small few drowning in their privilege and ignorance screaming from their rooftops. Terrified of sacrificing their freedom. Searching for an outlet to place their fear and anger.  

I can understand the temptation of a good conspiracy theory. It’s often easier to swallow than the idea that there are many things in our world that are simply uncontrollable. That our lives can be turned upside down and we have very little say over it.

That is an incredibly uncomfortable truth to sit in.

It is far more entertaining to tell a good story, no matter how exaggerated and inaccurate it may be. 

To shine the spotlight on those screaming the loudest.

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Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. In this episode, we discuss what Melbourne lockdown is doing to our kids. Post continues below.

Unfortunately, the less shiny truth in Melbourne is the vast majority of us are living in an extraordinary state of ordinary.

There are simply no headlines left for those following the rules, doing the right thing. 

I have seen many stories and articles claiming to “speak” for Melburnians and not once have I heard a voice close to mine. Not once have I seen a reflection of myself or those around me.  

Of the neighbour who continually spends his days inside, pounding their frustration into dough, to master the perfect loaf.

The teacher who spends her hours coming up with innovative ways to educate and engage through a screen. 

The single person who lies in bed fighting the aching need to simply be touched or to hug a loved one. 

The couples who are sitting on the couch binging Netflix on the day they should have been married. 

The families grieving a loved one from far away, lighting a candle and sending flowers. 

The children who now have a resilience that they never asked for, but have had to develop. 

The communities creating rituals to replace milestones that must go uncelebrated. 

The businesses who have had to adapt and pivot. 

For the endless zoom calls. 

The hours binging TV. 

The podcasts and YouTube tutorials. 

For the small villages of spoons. 

These are the stories behind the masks. 

Behind the headlines.

We are isolated. We are waiting. We are protecting our people. 

Of course we are not happy about having to do it. We are bored, scared, frustrated and exhausted deep into our bones. 

But despite our worlds now being so small, we are still looking at the bigger picture. 

The curve is flattening, the numbers are reducing. It is working. 

Because we, the ordinary ones are doing the work.

If only that was worth the headlines.

Feature image: Getty.

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