As we get closer to the end of 2020 I wanted to suggest that you think about writing your COVID story.

Why is that?

Well, odd as it may seem, a year from now, 10-20-30 years from now, unless you have recorded the events of this year –how you and your family/friends responded to them etc they’ll become faint recollections of the year of 2020.

As a writer I made a decision in early January to record my COVID story both words and images by starting a COVID diary. Each day I wrote a short entry, a paragraph or two about what I experienced, was feeling and how I was responding. In addition, I took photos of where I was.

I’m now compiling them into a book (as I would of course) and I’m going to print a couple of copies of My COVID story primarily for me and perhaps for others in the future.

I thought I’d share a couple of excerpts from my diary to help get you motivated to perhaps start your own COVID story while it’s still all fresh in your mind.

End January 2020

Bush fire smoke has meant I’ve locked myself inside the house.

News is about a virus in Wuhan, didn’t pay much attention as it was ‘over there’. Eddie the cat and I are both hot and he’s also bored.

February

Bushfire smoke still around but we’re having occasional days of clear air, what a relief.

News about the virus in Wuhan looking more serious, but not that concerned. We’re an island. Going about life as usual while watching the news.

Feb 19

Watching the news in the morning I see the passengers of the Ruby Princess disembarking early in the morning. I think about Mum who was a keen ‘cruiser’ before she died. What if she had been on that ship?

I can’t believe that they’ve let all the people off…what’s going on?

Feb 20

There seems to be something seriously amiss with the Ruby Princess passengers…fanning out across Australia. Something is not right, but still not too concerned.

March

Rolling announcements about restrictions of movement starting on the 18th.

20 March

The front page of the paper- Extraordinary times/ they sure are.

26 March

Headed into the city on the 200 bus. I am the only one on it.

The streets are empty. No-one in the shared workspace.

Coffee shop open so I chat with army guys and hospital workers. No-one questions me as to why I am in the city.

27 March

Get an angry call from a friend about my Facebook post of being the only person on the bus. Why am I going into the city? You’re not allowed to go into the city. Only essential workers are allowed out of their homes.’

I am shocked but respond: I am an essential worker, essential to me.

31 March

NSW Minister for Health has now directed every person within the state to remain in their residence. Someone can only leave their residence if he or she has a ‘reasonable excuse’.

I look up the 14-page order to see what is a reasonable excuse and it’s not fully defined in fact it’s rather open-ended. The ORDER (get that!) does list the types of activity that might be considered ‘a reasonable excuse.’

I decide that I am an ‘essential service’ to myself as if I can’t maintain my mental health I won’t be able to work, so I am going to catch the 200 bus into the city and work from my shared work space as I’ve always done.

I am going to keep my normal routine for as long as legally possible.

5 April

Visit Hugo in Epping. It’s his 25th birthday and the planned dinner at my place definitely not happening. So I made him a lemon tart and took it over. We met in the driveway, bumped elbows and I passed the tart over. Some 25th but at least I saw him, the first time in a month.

13 April

Sydney streets deserted, still. This is Elizabeth Street about 5pm. NO CARS at all.

5 May

Started the Bus Journey Index (BJI) a record of how many people are on the 200 bus each morning when I get on.

Today: 1. Me.

13 May

Walk around Centennial Park, my sanity. Spotted a lost toy. Made me incredibly sad.

17 May

Braved the bus and ferry to head to Manly and a walk around North Head with a friend, early. Stunning morning. We walked through the third Sydney Quarantine Station cemetery and read about those who died there. It was was established in 1881 for victims of a smallpox outbreak which lasted through until 1882.  It was later used for victims of the bubonic plaque outbreak in 1900 and the 1918-19 influenza epidemic. Here we are 102 years later.

Unlike most cemeteries, where people are buried with their headstones facing east, the remains of 241 people known to be buried there between 1881 and 1925 face south towards the city skyline.

20 May

Green dots and signs appearing in the buses and trains. Sit here. Stand here.

BJI: 1. Me

Signs appearing all over the place. Social distancing and limits on numbers in shops in an effort to keep some businesses open.

Wynyard Station is deserted.

28 May

More and more signs. Loved this one in a lift at Bondi Junction.

Pedestrian crossing buttons now all covered…you can’t ‘touch’ anything. I’m thinking the pedestrian crossing thing should be permanent.

31 May

Royal National Park for a hike. I just needed to get out of the city and breathe some fresh air and go for a long walk

2 July

BJI: One. Me

16 July

BJI: Two

Having fun with COVID signage..this one from a lift in the city. Ran a caption completion on Facebook.

21 July

So much for ‘we are in it together’. Spotted this announcement in a newspaper.

23 July

A beautiful winter day, wandered through Hyde Park and loved seeing the old men playing their usual game of outside chess. The city still deserted but there are a few signs of life…literally.

27 July

Oh shit. Mike and I dined at Thai Rock in Kings Cross a few nights back. He’s now called to say it’s a designated hot spot so we’re off to get tested.

Isolation till I get the results.

By the end of the day I’ve had two phone calls checking in, making sure I was OK, had everything I needed, offering help. VERY IMPRESSED.

28 July

At home worrying and making a mental list of all the people I have seen/met with between dinner and 27 July. 22 all up: walking buddy, three clients and various others.

I can’t concentrate at all, and I am surprised. Thought I’d be much more ‘matter-of-fact’ about it. I’m not worried about me, it’s everyone else. I don’t want to be the person that ‘gave them COVID’… and ….

28 -29 July

At home waiting for results.

Finally they call in the afternoon. All clear.

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