The hardest thing of being on pause is figuring out what’s ahead of us. The hardest thing about lockdowns is not knowing when they’ll lift.
In Hong Kong the last week of March is filled with rain, and without activities. Friends message from blocks away to say the’ve done nothing with the weekend. Friends message from other islands asking if we did anything. Friends message from other sides of the world, having just returned from Mexico, from Hawaii, from Mexico, and we must explain that Hong Kong will not let us out, won’t let us go to gyms, or use the exercise equipment in the park. Hong Kong won’t let us use the beach, or the airport. Hong Kong won’t let us see the world, or come home.
The rainy week is a perfect match for these restrictions, for the quiet that overtakes us when the only thing to do is stand in line for cookies at the fancy store across the street. Fifty people do at all hours, or at least at all hours the shop is open. I laugh at them, but can’t blame. There is nowhere else to go, not much else to do. Hiking, the only activity of any potential these past few months, is less appealing in the rain.
Instead we consider what will come next, when this child is born, when our life of two is a life of three. It’s hard to imagine, not least of all because we don’t know who we will share this apartment with. It is hard to imagine because we can’t see into our own future at all. There are no trips, no vacations, and haven’t been in years. There are no moves, no visits from distant friends, no concerts, no movies, no holidays. There is, in short, nothing on the horizon, which again matches this rainy week perfectly, the physical horizon as obscured as the chronological.
To counter these feelings of opacity we cook and see friends, sharing meals and light banter. We build lego, we work, and we work out in our apartment, glad for the quiet and free from any external requirements. It is, in many ways, a low stress environment, a relaxing few weeks of calm time. We are lucky to have jobs, to have food, to have shelter.
In other ways it is sad to have these low bars be our only achievements, and we desperately miss the feeling of potential that used to lift our spirits, that used to encompass our lives.
Summer will be here soon, and another member of our household. Perhaps by then the future will have returned to us.