Trains not taken and the kindness of strangers

My bank statement tells stories. About what mattered and what was missing, what happened and what didn’t.

17 March: my season ticket refund cleared. I surrendered it on the 14th, before my employer‘s mass text: “You’ll have seen today's Government advice to work from home wherever possible...” and before the lockdown. I was afraid to squeeze back onto a train or tube, afraid I was overreacting, afraid I wasn’t. 

4 April: the first time a masked volunteer dropped a paper pharmacy bag on my doorstep, pressed a gloved finger on the doorbell and waited from a safe distance. There was such a thing as a safe distance, now. 

6 April: first supermarket delivery. I never went to supermarkets anyway, because of what I laughingly call my health. My husband used to go for me. Now we’re both too vulnerable. It took five hours and 95 tries to get through before the supermarket agreed. 

Flavoured coffee. Aromatherapy oils. Audiobooks I couldn’t concentrate enough to enjoy. Birthday presents for friends I couldn’t see. 

27 April: an iPad. I felt so frivolous, but a bigger screen and better-quality video calls were so much more important now. 

Regular transactions: supermarket deliveries. Therapy sessions in which I make do with a digital gaze and pay online. 

21 May: tickets to stream a Comedy Store Players show on YouTube. We saw them live on my birthday, laughed and laughed in a crowded room. I used to hate having a birthday right near Christmas. Now I think it probably beats a lockdown birthday. 

22 May: two face masks, ready for a new normal. I’m not ready. It’s not normal.