Since the UK went into lockdown last March, I’ve been aching with wanderlust. In the first half of that long, isolated stretch, I managed to repress these yearnings for the world outside my hometown—what else was I supposed to do? Dwelling on those aches would be painful and fruitless, or frustrating at the very least. To escape temporarily from the quarantine I was trapped in would’ve been one thing, but to be consumed by thoughts of things I would neither see nor experience for an indefinite amount of time seemed unwise. It still seems unwise, only… I can’t seem to stop myself anymore.
Summer offered a glimpse of hope that things were returning to normal. We ate at restaurants, went to parks and movies, and even spent a week by the coast. Going abroad was risky, but not illegal. The world was opening back up. I foolishly unclenched the metaphorical fist I had held around my global dreams and allowed myself to hope and scheme and plan again.
But it was to no avail. Cases inevitably soared after the freedom of summer, and new restrictions were on the way. November saw another month of national lockdown and, as some cruelly ironic Christmas ‘gift’, a new coronavirus variant reared its even more infectious head over the holidays. We were confined to our own homes yet again and now, nearing the end of January, I sit in the bedroom I have grown oh-so-accustomed to and wonder… will things ever go back to normal for good? Or will there simply be endless cycles of rule relaxation, surging cases, new restrictions, rule relaxation again, and so on?
I certainly hope for the former. I miss the world; my eyes long for new sights and my lungs want nothing more than to breathe air from a faraway land. The last time I saw mountains was in 2018. I was on a school trip to Switzerland and it was dreamy; now I must dream to see it. I can close my eyes and picture the towering peaks with their caps of snow, and the sprawling Swiss views I took in from the summit of one such mountain. The last time I felt foreign warmth, I was in the Dordogne region of France in the summer of 2019, sleeping in a bedroom that overlooked vineyards and drifting around the pool on a flamingo float every other day. Days like those feel a world away now. That kind of heat cannot be replicated in England. When it is warm in France, it feels like a soft hug from the sun itself. I miss it.
Every day, I feel a new rush of gratitude that I have those past experiences to hold on to in these times of dull confinement. They remind me of life before, and hopefully, life yet to come. When I’ve escaped into my mind for as long as I can, I take to an alternative method to quench my thirst for travel. Well, sort of… I hop onto Google Earth from time to time and use street view to stroll through the streets of a random place. Can you tell I’m desperate to get away? Last week I went to Florence, Italy, followed by Mount Orohena in Tahiti. Yesterday I went to Vancouver, Canada. Today, Thai food markets and then Norwegian fjords. How’s that for variety?
I will see these wonders in person one day, but for now, I will content myself with marvelling at them via my screen. Another method of worldly escapism I’ve incorporated into each day is Instagram. Specifically, travel pages. They arguably torture me as I scroll, but a more positive way to look at it is, it’s a daily reminder that the world keeps on spinning, and its beauty still exists with the dawn of each new day. I just have to be patient to see it for myself.
I will see the world in all its glory in person soon… how soon? Only time—and coronavirus—will tell. And I will wait.