The Lockdown Diaries

A couple of weeks ago, I reconnected with a friend of mine and gave her un update on my last 18 months in Australia. After talking to her, I thought of sharing my thoughts with all of you. The unique (and not so unique) situation of this Pandemic, is that no matter where you are in the world right now, there are many chances you can relate to my reality, and by learning about it, I hope we’ll feel closer to one another.

Last year, we were in lockdown for nearly seven months. By the end of 2020, many people around me were doing it mentally tough, including myself.

Many businesses closed down and the city had this weird energy around it. In my neighbourhood there were many empty houses as people moved back with their parents, or decided to leave the city as it was too sad/too tough. My area was particularly impacted as it is inhabited with artists and creatives in general, and a lot of them struggled financially.

My partner and I were very lucky to keep our creative space up and running. Half of us have been at Rotson Studios for a long time and know the value of our community. Many others left us, which is totally understandable. Our landlord gave us some rent relief but, in my opinion, not enough.

In October, the government offered a grant to everyone renting studio spaces, which felt like a financial reward for the ones who kept our desk space but we couldn’t use it for most of the year.

For some people, keeping the airports shut means peace of mind; and for the rest of the country, the other 50% of the population who has family overseas, it represents an open wound.

The State’s identity has developed significantly, which is a natural reaction due to the contrasting circumstances you are experiencing based on your location in the country.

There are many realities on my island, like in every other country around the world: People who are busier than ever; people who don’t believe in Covid; people who thrive in lockdowns; people who are falling in love, getting married and having babies; people who are losing loved ones; and people who are very homesick, wherever home is.

A couple of months ago, I travelled interstate to support my partner’s father after his hip replacement surgery. Two weeks later, the State’s borders shut down again and we are currently locked up in regional NSW indefinitely. The great news? We are healthy, close to the beach and the weather is freaking amazing. The not so great news? Work has decreased considerably and we are paying a temporary Airbnb plus our rent in the city, which is a financial stretch.

I consider myself privileged and especially lucky because I haven’t lost any friends or family due to Covid-19 so far.

My partner and I are doing really well. The intense conviviality of the last eighteen months has only strengthened our relationship, which makes my heart sing.

Lastly, I have done a lot of study and personal development, so I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the last year.

I would LOVE to hear from you and your reality.

Whether you are at the beach having a mojito, or covered in blankets dreaming of a better future to come. Above all, I hope this letter reminds you that no matter what, we are not alone.

Much love, Maria.

This article is part of my latest email newsletter called “The Lockdown Diaries”.

Barcelona born, Naarm (Melbourne) based multilingual, multicultural independent lettering designer, illustrator and calligraphy educator. mariamontes.net