When lockdown first started I was working from home. I was really happy to be doing that. I’m not a particularly social person in the office, I sit with a lot of people who are much younger than me and though I love them all dearly, I don’t really have much in common with them when it comes to spending our free time (apart from my book club buddies who I used to hang out with once a month, to eat, talk books and drink wine).
The other factor is that the group of people I work most closely with are spread all over the UK so we don’t actually work in the same physical space anyway. Video chats and G-chat were our normal modes of communication anyway. So when we were all dispatched to our homes it was a pleasant experience for me.
Six weeks later I was furloughed. I was shell shocked. I’d been talking to colleagues about who might be furloughed, whose roles could be put on hold. I am the only person in my physical location that does my job so surely I couldn’t be furloughed? Wrong. I was completely blind sided. My boss video chatted me to tell me, I don’t really remember the conversation. Just the feeling of rejection. The absolute dread that this meant my job would be made redundant. If they could do without me even for a short period of time, why did they need me at all. The feeling of inadequacy was huge. I couldn’t get off the call fast enough. I spent the rest of day, probably more like the rest of the week, crying with a mixture of terror and frustration.
I know now, 6 months down the line, that all those feelings were unfounded but at the time I was devastated. The sense of loss was enormous. I’ve always been a person who is defined by her job, it’s a huge part of my identity. I am a data analyst. I bring order to chaotic numbers and spreadsheets. I create a sense of calm around myself with those columns of numbers. I provide data and insight to other people for whom the numbers are incomprehensible. Taking that away is like chopping off my arm.
So with that as the backdrop the first couple of days didn’t go so well. I was like a whirling dirvish. I cleared cupboards. I emptied drawers. I sorted digital photos into albums. Anything to feel useful. To bring a little bit of order into my life. Then I took a deep breath. A big deep breath. And I did this out in my garden. Which at the time, being April, was a little bare. A few bits of green here and there but nothing much to speak of. It was at this point that I remembered the packets of seeds I’d found in those drawers I tidied. Out of date seeds. Very out of date seeds. And I found a bag of soil in the shed. So with very little expectation the seeds were sown.
Strawberries, raspberries and mint from the previous year were starting to grow again, plus the gorgeous purple foxglove that had been the star of the show last year. Empty pots containing the sunflower seeds from the out of date packet.