There’s something I never thought I’d write. Before 2020, I’d never even heard of Covid-19, let alone coronavirus. Yet, here I am in March 2020, on a forced lockdown through Covid-19. Lots of us are out of work. Streets are deserted. Planes grounded. And it’s all very real. Or surreal, should I say.
As we sat at East Midlands Airport on a drizzly cold day in Mid March, there was a certain atmosphere. A cold one. And it wasn’t the revolving door slowly turning. Instead it was sharp. Lonely. Miserable.
Everybody was cold. Cold in nature. Eyes shifted as you watched somebody get a little too close. Heads swiftly turned when a distant cough could be heard.
Cancelled. Cancelled. Cancelled.
It was everywhere. Flights cancelled. Trips cancelled. Bars and restaurants closed. It seemed happiness was cancelled too. A departures lounge normally filled with laughter and excitement and the buzz of the holiday had come to a standstill. This was the world right now. Standstill.
We would be getting the last flight from East Midlands to Alicante for a while. A flight that goes out at least once a day… full.
8 flights went out, that cold March day. 6 to other parts of the U.K. and 2 to Spain. One to Malaga with 12 people on, and one to Alicante with 35 people on. I could count the people, I could count the planes but I couldn’t count the smiles. Because there were none.
Has coronavirus cancelled a simple smile as you walk down the street? Has it cancelled a “cute dog!” as you pass by? It seems that way, for now. You’d try and make eye contact and smile. But it was cold.
As we stood in the queue to board, it didn’t feel like a Friday night to Alicante, at all. I almost found myself missing the shouts and screams of drunk people heading out on holiday. I almost missed the stench of alcohol. It was familiar. Sure, I hated it, but it was normality.
Instead, we boarded our flight and was seated away from each other. I had Alex next to me, but there was nobody directly in front, or directly behind. Two seats between us and anybody else. On any other occasion, it would be fantastic. Ryanair, but not as you know it.
The air con remained off for the duration of the flight and it was a little bit of a relief. I’ve always hated the air cons anyway. They’re riddled with germs and make me uncomfortable and cold. I was cold enough without the air con being on today.
There were no sirens of joy when we landed ahead of schedule. We all shuffled off the plane, with majority of our flight wearing masks and the other half covering their face with their scarves or jackets. Sure, it looked like Alicante airport, but it didn’t feel like it at all.
We headed through passport control and it was empty. In every sense of the word. Silent. The once bustling airport was as quiet as could be. Footsteps echoed around the passport control as everybody shuffled their way through. The machines were turned off. There wasn’t anybody checking passports. It was just… empty.
Then they gathered around their cases. Ignoring the 2 metre distance announcement that circulated around in Spanish and English. We stood back, way back. It’s crazy to me how these people all were wearing masks but the second it meant they could get to their case first, their caution went down.
In line with the Royal Decree, Alicante Airport wavered our late parking fee. Instead, we were let out. We headed back home.
The roads were quiet. Eerie. The odd car would pass, with one person in. It would be the last time we were in a car for a while. The last time we’d be out while this is all still going on. Strange. I played the Disney soundtrack from the Happily Ever After show and you’d be surprised at how many songs are about longing to go outside, or being locked away.
As we drove past the castle, the Spain flag colours were lit on to it. A symbol of solidarity. A symbol of hope.
We arrived back to our street and it was eerily quiet. It almost felt like we were out late after curfew and we were sneaking in. It would be the last time we’d be walking the street together until this is all over, and it’s weird to think that the last time we did it, I had to walk 2 metres in front.
But we made it back home.
But, it’s not that bad. Honestly. If anything, it feels like a cold and rainy Easter holiday where we can’t go out but we haven’t got work to do. The Spanish government have announced that they’re going to help workers who are out of work, and with Alex working from home, we are okay.
There are others that aren’t in such a position as we are. It makes me think of all the people who are going to find the next couple of weeks… months? Difficult.
I’ll be entertaining myself with plenty of video games, and Disney plus binge watching and yoga and Netflix and cleaning and dog walking. It’s not much to ask of us younger people to just stay in and sit on a sofa. We do it anyway, but instead we need to do it. Distance yourself.
Alex has been shopping this morning and the shop was filled. Toilet rolls, kitchen roll, vegetables, meat, you name it, they had it. So, if you’re in the U.K., please stop panic buying. Please stop stocking up on what you need. Spain has been in lockdown for over 7 days now and the shops aren’t struggling. They only struggle if you stockpile and they can’t keep up. (But maybe invest in some new pyjamas and loungewear!)
We heard news of bars and restaurants shutting in the U.K. as we landed at the airport. I wholeheartedly believe that the U.K. will follow Spain in the next few days. First, we announced school closures, then came bars and restaurants. A day or so later came lockdown.
But, it’s really not that bad. We still have the internet. We can still keep in touch. It makes me hopeful for the future. The art that will come out of this. The learning that can be done. The personal growth. The time spent with family. Time to reset. Time to take a step back and look at our own habits. Time to save money.
As the sun rose over the sea, I opened the window. It all felt the same as every other morning. Birds sang as the waves crashed against the shore. It’s always been quiet at this time of the day. It’s my favourite time. Peaceful… and quiet. Maybe some quiet isn’t so bad, after all.
If we all come together now and stick to this lockdown, the quicker it will be over. And, I don’t know about you, but if it’s all over in time for summer, I’m ready to have the best summer yet.
Stay safe x