It’s hard for me to pinpoint the moment during the pandemic where I felt as if something in me had changed, maybe for good. But I think it was on my birthday, so that would have been in July 2020. This particular birthday fell at a time when you couldn’t really see people, but the shops were open. This was the time of banana bread recipes, the 2-metre rule and Thank You Baked Potato.
Anyway, I went especially to a balloon shop, all masked-up and ready for battle, and bought a load of massive helium balloons shaped like drinks, thinking: “I will not be defeated by this joyless apocalypse.” And yet, on this birthday, the inflated margaritas brought no joy whatsoever. They just hung in the air, accusingly. Party balloons for a nonexistent party. I felt stupid and desperate. I knew this wasn’t depression, anxiety or long Covid. It