I miss my friends. 

When lockdown started I had just come back from holiday and was finding the whole experience unsettling but okay. I worked on a lot of things, tried a lot of new skills, danced a lot and generally kept myself busy. I’ve been busy all of lockdown and it’s been really nice to have time and energy to invest in creative outlets. My job is super demanding and by the time I get home I’m so tired all I want to do is lie down and watch some mindless program on Netflix. But the last 5 months have given me a chance to recharge and make new plans for my future. From a mental health point of view I am really good. There’s been little anxiety or depression, I feel stable and calm. This is great for someone learning to manage their emotions better. 

But I miss my friends. 

I live in a really well connected part of London, but when you can’t use trains, tube or bus because it’s risky you are suddenly a little stuck. Ilford is just far out enough that it’s too far out to walk anywhere and I can’t ride a bike and don’t have a UK driving license yet so I am a little stuck. I miss meeting up for Nando’s in Westfield, and being made fun of because I literally make everyone go to Westfield Stratford to hang out. I miss our little cinema club on Mondays for the cheap deal at VUE. I miss live music and exploring and food with people. I miss hugs and hi-5s and just talking to anyone outside of my immediate family. I miss my friends in Chicago and hanging out in gardens or living rooms with their pets, or going to random scary bars for $5 burgers, or playing Minecraft and watching anime and looking at ridiculously expensive houses. I miss the pool and the beach and the lake and hiking in the forests nearby and Mars Cheese Castle. I miss hanging out on porches and stoops and balconies with snacks and cold drinks and music blasting. I miss cruising in my car and looking for adventure. 

There’s no real substance to this post, I was just feeling sad about not seeing my friends. I’m very fortunate to have a lovely, supportive, awesome set of friends, who are scattered all over the world and who are like my own little family. I’m terrible at keeping in contact with anyone, but I know if I was nearby any of them and we met up it would be like we’d never been apart, there would be catching up and it would be wonderful. Those to me are true friendships, people you know will be there even if you’ve not spoken in a little while because you know your friendship is just that strong. Those friends mean the world to me, and I should probably tell them so more often. Some I’ve known for 20 years, some I’ve known for 5, some I’ve known for less than a year but everyone is just as important. If you’re reading this and know I mean you, hi! 

I think there’s a point to this post, perhaps it’s that I realise how important interacting with other people is. How much you gain and grow from experiences with the people you love, and how life can get a little monotone without your friends around you to break that up. Virtual hang outs do fill a void of some sort but they don’t really replicate hanging out in real life. You can’t get the same vibe from Zoom no matter how many comical backgrounds you use. Honestly when I Zoom anyone I am always doing 3 other things, once I was on my Switch because I had to build some stuff in Animal Crossing. It’s hard to stay focused on more than one thing. I do like playing video games with people online way more than I like Zoom meetings. I’ve played Minecraft, WoW, some random game with tanks, Pokemon Sword, Animal Crossing and a few others. Animal Crossing in particular was great because I got to connect with people who I love very much but haven’t seen in 5 or 6 years because of distance and timings. You visit each other’s islands, you hit each other on the head with nets, you try to chop each other with axes. It’s a fun and wholesome time for all. 

I don’t want things to go back to normal, I want things to change. Life wasn’t balanced like it should be. Too much time is spent in work, and too much time is spent in school. I read an article on how the school week is only that long because of 9-5 working hours, and children need to spend more time outside and with their families. I also think a 40 hour work week as normal is ridiculous. You shouldn’t have to find the energy to do other things after working so long, working hours should be flexible, everyone should be paid a universal credit so they don’t have to worry about money, and we should have more time to invest in things we love, not shitty office jobs. Though I realise we won’t go into a straight up utopia after this, I hope that working from home becomes more normal and people are more flexible. 

I have to go back to work once Summer Holidays are over and that involves trains across London and if I’m going across London anyway it means I can swing by and socially distance hang out with people, maybe even walk through ChinaTown and get some bubble tea and some noodles.  We won’t be able to hug but we can hi-5 and that’s all I need really.