Hey, remember travel? That thing - as enthusiastic explorers of planet Earth - we did as frequently as financially possible pre-pandemic? Yeah, that. Well, I'm calling it: it'll be better post-pandemic.
Hold your eye-rolls and raised eyebrows. I'll explain.
My diary currently looks like someone (metaphorically) took Tipp-Ex to it - as does most people's right now. The shoop-shoop-shooping (don't tell me you haven't been binge-watching Friends) I was supposed to be doing down slopes on Canada's west coast back in March is scratched out, and the cycling around Vancouver's Stanley Park I had pencilled in to show my dad my new home has all but been erased. Weekend excursions to hike mountains have been put on indefinite hold, and I sign off every FaceTime with friends who are meant to be exploring California with me this summer with gritted teeth and an awkward inhale, for who knows if the trip will materialise. It probably won't.
In place of these entries are: bake banana bread (what else?); try (and fail) to make that mega-frothy TikTok coffee thing; and meow back at the cat from the flat upstairs. All fun activities, sure, but not quite comparable to the those I had planned previously.
My self-pitying side (which I like to think is a fairly small side, but I'm a Pisces so who can really say) is sad that, for now, I'll miss out on visiting so many fun places. Yet the optimist in me is resolute in the belief that I will enjoy them all the more when I eventually do get to experience them.
You see, if I'm honest, I wasn't looking forward to actually skiing as much as I was wearing the high-waisted snow pants I scored in a charity shop while taking in the view from the top. And, as much as I love having family to visit, I worried we'd get under one another's feet in my small flat.
That was all BC (before coronavirus), however. Now, I'm desperate for the day when I can glide (read: flail) through fluffy snow on skis, and I'm more excited than ever to see my dad's face IRL, so an outing together - literally anywhere, even the arse-end of nowhere - would be the icing on top.
Pre-pandemic me had a hard timing being present. I feel like that's something many of us have in common. It wasn't that I was unappreciative of my adventures. Far from it, in fact. But my head always seemed to be stuck in the future, clogged up with concerns of what was to come next - so much so that I missed out on a lot of little moments that, today, I consider luxuries.
Now that the wellbeing of our loved ones is reliant on the success of our self-isolation, we've been forced to slow down for the greater good. Of course, it felt uncomfortable at first - as most unfamiliar routines do - but I, for one, am starting to enjoy a more gentle pace of life. I simply cannot get caught up in thoughts of the future, of making plans and goals, as it's all so uncertain. As sickly as it sounds, I'm living every moment. Every hopeful, lonely, quiet, anxious, grateful, empty one of them. I'm learning appreciation on a whole new level.
Now, when I occasionally leave my flat for essential supplies and exercise, I get giddy at the sight of the cherry blossom around the corner. I ugly-smile when I see waves lapping the beach, and snagging a glimpse of the mountains at the end of my street on a clear day sends me over the edge. Every little thing - every sign of life - excites me, and I can't wait until it's safe to explore more of the world through these fresh eyes.
Government-enforced lockdown along with the pandemic that caused it have made the world unrecognisable in many ways, countless of which are sadly negative. Along with health struggles and the devastating loss of loved ones is the financial despair many are facing. In amongst all the heartache, though, are a few little beams of light. The kindness of neighbours, a profound appreciation for humanity and, somewhat unexpectedly, some environmental shifts that haven't gone unnoticed.
In Punjab, one of India's most polluted cities, people are reporting being able to see the Himalayan mountains for the first time in decades as pollution levels have plummeted; in Venice, the canal water is so unusually clear that fish can be seen swimming beneath the surface. I hope that, in seeing the positive effects reduced human activity has had on our planet - and in such a short time - we'll have a collective light-bulb moment. We'll reconsider some of our travel choices, and perhaps opt for more conscious adventures instead, electing to explore alternative transport options - maybe trading planes for trains where possible, or Uber rides for cycling - as well as being mindful of the destinations we choose to visit and the impact that our tourism has on that community. I hope that we'll continue to make extra big efforts to support small businesses - favouring independent coffee shops over Costa and Starbucks - wherever we go, and that we'll embrace staycations in our own magnificent backyard.
Above all, though, I hope that we can be entirely caught up in every adventure that comes our way - be it a Californian getaway (fingers crossed) or an amble around our home towns. And, most importantly, I hope we can have our favourite people along for the ride.