al fresco
/al ˈfrɛskəʊ/
In the open air.

The planet has turned a full 365 days since the UK was plunged into lockdown. A term that, prior to 2020, was something from the script of a low budget, dystopian, action thriller. Lockdown. Similarly, our return to the ‘new normal’ feels like some what of a cliché remark; when really this welcome return moves mountains within us, all of us for very different reasons. The last three months have seen the weekly twilight clapping disappear, the Happy Mail and doorstep deliveries dry up and the human connection faulter like the patchy Wifi signal that inevitably interrupts your Zoom meeting. A constant, cyclical buffering of disjointed movements and broken communication. We’ve become over caffeinated, over fed and over whelmed, yet undernourished, under informed and under connected. We’re numb, disengaged and our patience is wearing thin.

We’ve been taking it one day, one week, one vaccine at a time and here we finally are…spring.  The fresh, clean oxygen inflating our lungs as we emerge from our caves into the stark daylight; eyes blinking, bodies lethargic and minds swollen.

The next six weeks will bring vast, collective change to our little island, and I’d like to propose that we celebrate the alfresco at this time. ‘In the open air’. Let’s celebrate the physical, the natural and the new (safely) rather than this repetitive, augmented reality of Government announcements, Facebook toxicity and sterility. Let’s connect, let’s emerge safely together into the open air.

With one quivering foot in front of the other we will carry ourselves towards the freedom that various restriction relaxations will bring. Fear will try to ride shotgun, a reliable reminder of how the world has suffered at the hands of far more than a virus.

It begins with cherishing each other and embracing our comfort zones in the open air. It begins with tiny garden gatherings of four and enthusiastic smiles across a two-meter glacial crevasse, our muscles remembering how to behave outside of the sofa. It begins with Whatsapp groups springing back into life, tentative summer plans and the alluring, desert mirage of a freshly poured drink in a bar. It begins.

As the alfresco meet-ups and backyard rendezvous creep into our Google Calendars we are viciously reminded of the dichotomies the world has forced us into. The divisive nature of humanity: our ability to create an either/or complex. We need to be prepared to accept each other for the people we were before the comments section of some digital tabloid newspaper told us how to think and feel. (We feast on the crumbs of lies when our souls are starving.) We need to remember there has been insidious change for so many of us, and in the words of the great Bard ‘nothing is good nor bad, but thinking makes it so’.

Savour these sacred moments of human unification. Savour them under softly lit outside spaces, shrouded in blankets with mouths full of words. Savour them with decking boards beneath your feet or grass tickling the unused space between your toes. Decorate them with candle light and music in the air. Fill them with food, joy and ‘me too’ moments. Reignite friendships over the two-meter ravine of well-placed patio furniture and potted plants; whilst you love and accept and laugh once again.

Let’s begin… in the open air.

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