23 March 2021

One Year On

Today marks one year when the UK first went into lockdown

I have so many bittersweet emotions around it all, but it mostly just makes me feel despondent for the death and lost time. After all, in 2019, I had worked myself ragged and saved, saved, saved for six months back in Virginia to be able to take a long sabbatical filled with British adventures, stories, and reclaimed independence. Three months into that trip, COVID-19 rumbled onto the scene and turned everything upside down.

With exception to the couple of months in Virginia to await my fiancĂ©e visa and one week in Bermuda to get officially engaged, it's just been one perpetual restrictive limbo where life has stalled. The sole redemption of the past year is that I have spent it with my best friend and my light. Mr. B's once-in-a-lifetime kind of love averted my complete breakdown. 

I remember having to wean myself off of my anxiety medication last May because I didn't know when I would get a safe flight back to the States and couldn't get my American prescription refilled here. Let me tell you that going off of your anxiety meds in the midst of a brand new pandemic is not recommended, especially for an empath. My anxiety pierced weeks and manifested in digestive problems, insomnia, migraines, exhaustion, weight gain, and illogical tears that appeared out of nowhere. I felt mentally stuck, fearing not knowing how long I would be separated from Mr. B once my visit visa expired. How often would borders close? How many more flights would be canceled? Will my loved ones be okay? Can I stay healthy without the safety net of medical insurance?

For those who haven't had to live through nine consecutive and nonconsecutive months of stay-at-home lockdown orders, who can't even remember when your legal wedding day or future anniversary is because it has changed so many times, or who have had to navigate immigration protocols and move across an ocean when the world was closed, it's safe to say that your spirit is chipped.

As a new immigrant, my brain will forever straddle my birth country and my new home country in all aspects of my life. And it is heartbreaking that both poorly handled the pandemic with unconscionable high death tolls and cases. I left one country who finally changed leadership for the better, and I'm now in a country where it eerily feels like the broken one I left. 

There have been beautiful moments of people coming together, supporting each other, honoring those frontline workers who sacrificed so much for the good of all, and speaking up for inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, but sadly, it's all under the shadow of "we wouldn't even have had to do this if xyz happened." From a top level, there were at least two effectively positive things that did happen in the UK. One being the NHS' success with the vaccine roll-out as it really is one of the best in the world. And second being the furlough scheme that saved Mr. B's transportation sector job along with millions of others in traditional employment.

On this very day for people in England, legal marriage ceremonies are still banned (unless you are on your deathbed), financial support still doesn't reach everyone, and non-COVID patients still aren't getting the life-saving medical treatments they need because the healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the pandemic.

I hope when I reflect on Two Years On that we won't even recognize what 2020 and 2021 looked like. That I'll only remember how my entire life changed for the better because I met Mr. B, that we eventually got married, and that we built the foundation for our future together in arduous times.