History and Culture Musings

Lockdown Longings

I originally wrote this on 10th May 2020 during the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown. The thoughts and feelings expressed below recently came back to mind.

This weekend, for some reason, the absence of, and inability to have, long, slow, face-to-face conversations has hit me quite hard. We’re several weeks into lockdown so why now? I guess grief comes in waves and it often hits you when you least expect it. (Note: I use the word “grief” advisedly here because although this is akin to that, it’ll never be the same as the grief of losing a loved one).

A friend sent me a message yesterday which had the makings of a good, long, and quite convoluted conversation. But “convoluted” in a positive way. It was the kind of conversation that lent itself to slow, detailed explanation, numerous questions for clarity, moments of surprise and confirmation, some fresh insight into humans and the world we live in. I wanted all of that so badly.

This photo was taken in Haarlem, a city in the northwest Netherlands, in the summer of 2017. These are friends of ours, Melody and Onne. Mel was a year ahead of me at school in Zambia 🙂

Summer 2017. Haarlem, Netherlands.

We’d spent the afternoon drinking coffees and chatting al fresco style in the middle of town. We then went for a walk along the river to move our legs and kill some time before dinner. We carried on with our conversations but now, also talked about the things we saw as we walked. Historic windmills, the insides of people’s houses, trains on the Amsterdam line, boats bobbing on the water… The light was wonderful and everything looked beautiful.

We circled back into town and the volume of people seemed to have increased since we’d left. We quickly settled for a little family-run Italian place right on a street corner with a great view of the expansive Grote Kerk (a large Protestant Reformed church), and it immediately felt like the right choice.

I love summer evenings in Europe… when the light endures that bit longer naturally extending your day. We spent the next few hours chatting about all sorts. We laughed, retold stories, asked questions, people-watched and enjoyed one of the best iterations of Italian food I’ve ever tasted. 👌🏾

Later, we walked Mel and Onne back to the train station. After we said goodbye, we headed back to our little Airbnb flat, our hearts and bellies full.


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