opinion

'I'm about to go into my fourth Melbourne lockdown. I don't even have the energy to be angry.'

I think I can confidently speak for every Melbournian when I say, it's been a long 48 hours. 

Oh, how quickly I had forgotten how all-consuming the unknown and sense of impending doom can be. 

How quickly I had forgotten the constant refreshing of Twitter to read whispers of what someone had heard from someone else that someone in a senior leadership position had said. 

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How quickly I had forgotten the daily press conferences and the desperate hope for a North Face jacket that would become our cult hero and symbol of good news. 

Oh, how quickly I had forgotten it all. 

The wounds had healed, and that vicious daily cycle was all but a distant memory. 

A bad relationship that you tell yourself you’ve learnt from and are better for it. 

We were putting ourselves out there again. Back to exquisite indoor dining! Live theatre! Various footballs! We’d moved on. 

But those wounds left scars and in 48 hours, the stories they painted on our skin were no longer tales from the past. 

As if no time had passed at all, Melbourne was dependent on the ex from 2020, diving right back into an unhealthy relationship with the daily presser.

On this day that we process what is hopefully only a seven-day lockdown, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. 

I think I would prefer to be mad because at least it feels like an active energy. 

I don’t have the energy to be mad, because I am already tired. The ideal way to process this news is to be optimistic, know it is for the greater good and trust that seven days is all it will be.

However, the reality for many of us is how reminiscent this is of the same time last year and with those memories, optimism quickly fades.  

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Flashing back to the OG lockdowns of March 2020, communal experiences of watching the latest thing to drop on Netflix, or getting into baking, or weird online fitness classes kept us feeling together, while we adjusted to what life looked like apart. 

It was a way of calming the screaming inside, the terror of the unknowns and a way of life that we had never lived before.

Everything was in shambles and so we clung like crazy to anything that provided a semblance of normality. 

I set up online groups to watch The Wire together, a book club to read a book a week, and scheduled many game nights and virtual drinks. 

I made plans and kept it busy, using these few touchstones as a floatation device through the confusion. 

It didn’t mean I wasn’t still out at sea, floating around aimlessly with no end in sight, but it at least meant I could stay afloat until the waters calmed. 

When it came to subsequent lockdowns, when it wasn’t new and novel and the whole world wasn’t on the same timeline, everything changed. 

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The fear and shock of lockdown one was replaced with exhaustion and fatigue in lockdown two. 

And that overwhelming tiredness and lack of enthusiasm, translated to a lot less proactive planning of virtual drinks, and a lot more passing time in a way that I can’t even remember. 

The announcement today may only be for seven days, but the memory of last year is vivid and that familiar fatigue hit with an uninvited urgency.

The tricks and rules we applied to make the best of the first lockdown have become redundant in preceding lockdowns and I find myself struggling for positive words because my positivity is being tested. 

The rebuilding and regeneration that has taken place in Melbourne has been tough for many, but rewarding. 

Children back in classrooms, patrons sharing meals in cafes, full theatre auditoriums, crowds back at the footy, laughter echoing across the Comedy Festival. 

The rich culture that makes Melbourne Melbourne was alive and well again, providing the perfect therapy to erase the memories of the quiet streets just months before. 

I do think sound will be injected back into the streets much faster than it was over the long winter of last year, but it is very reasonable to feel as though we have collectively been punched in the stomach right now.

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To the sweet folk of Melbourne, I am sorry that the next seven days are going to be tough.

I can’t lie to you and sugar coat it, but I can lie on the couch with you in solidarity and recognise the situation. 

I see the challenge we each face to not be crushed by this setback and will crush a whole pack of Tim Tams with you as a sign of camaraderie. 

As humans, we just want to be seen and be heard, so I am here to say “I see you. I hear you. This sucks”.

I know today’s news is hard.

And it feels very hard not to be overwhelmed and triggered by it and what we went through last year. But we are so much smarter now, Melbourne, and know so much more. We are acting so much faster. We at least HAVE vaccines. And we know the word aerosol now! 

These are all reasons for optimism. It will be okay and the path out of this will be easier, but it’s okay to have moments where it feels deflating and unfair. 

If you can muster up the energy to be proactive and engage in social activities in the next seven days, do it.

But if this time feels different and like everything is just a little more laborious, give yourself that! Don’t hold this lockdown to the same standard or expectation as the first rodeo. It’s different. The world is different. You’re different.

You don’t need to learn Spanish. Or bake a dumb bread. Your only job is to make it to the end. To keep yourself and your community safe. And brush your teeth twice a day. 

We’ve developed our fair share of scars Melbourne, but lucky we’re in the city of cool tattoos and our collective skin detailing brands us as the bravest, most resilient of people. 

You will get through this and re-emerge in your thick, black, very “on brand Melbourne” coat stronger than you knew possible. 

We’ll break up with the case numbers, the press conferences (and the insane reality that we still haven’t found a way to properly mic the journos and therefore can’t hear their questions… what is that about?) and the doom scrolling on social media soon and be back whining about how cold it is outside. 

We’ll be out of this unhealthy relationship and I can’t wait to be freezing my butt off, miserable in the rain with you.

Feature Image: Supplied / Getty.