CW: Themes relating to the pandemic, biphobia and mental health relating to both. Reader discretion is advised.
“It will always be a mystery to me how we can’t forget the love that forgot us. ” – JM Storm
This pandemic has taken a mental and emotional toll on all of us. While the love from loved ones we cannot see, hug, kiss and spend time with, might seem it has abandoned us, it has not.
It is volcanic almost, bubbling under the surface, desperate to get out. When I think ‘forgot’ in this context, I think of the prolonged isolation and restriction on socialising. We have to learn to socialise and if you think about it, love, all over again.
With the pandemic, social and political tensions that are all ongoing, it can feel like love has forgot us. Especially so, if we are part of a marginalised community that is often targeted by hatred, prejudice and violence. Personally speaking, seeing the latest round of biphobia circulating the internet, from within the LGBTQ+ community (bisexual people receive varying degrees of this from both straight and queer people, so we often feel like we don’t belong anywhere), I’ve felt tired, angry and frankly, emotionally exhausted feeling like I have to constantly justify my existence that yes, I am in fact, a human being.
Pandemic restrictions, like most of us, have prevented me from seeing my loved ones. It’s stopped me from visiting, having a cup of tea with and hugging them. Small things that we took for granted before mean everything now. Coming from a family of huggers and who are a close-knit bunch, that has been, and is continuing to be, very difficult for us. I talk regularly with my parents on the phone, almost daily, but it’s not the same as giving them a hug and chatting with them in the living room. We’ve agreed to wait until we’re all fully vaccinated and it’s deemed safe to do so. Until then, we carry on and wait.
As far as generally socialising goes, it seems I’ve forgot how to do it. With people I know, it’s been ok, if a bit stagnant. Apart from what’s going on in the world, what can we say? There’s nothing we really can say. Small talk doesn’t exist anymore. We’re still going through the collective trauma of being sick, seeing someone sick, losing someone, living with the effects of the pandemic in more ways than one etc.
You might be wondering why I called this post Dreams of New Zealand. Well, let me explain:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll have heard about New Zealand’s incredible response to the COVID19 pandemic. They, for the most part, have what we once knew as a normal life now. No masks, no social distancing, and massive sense of community to help others that (from someone in the UK, whose own government’s response has been nothing short of awful with 150,000+ deaths, making it plain clear last year that in comparison to the economy, human life is expendable to them) I wish we had more of that here. And yes, I know, most aren’t like the horrid types of people you see showing no regard for anyone for themselves, but I’ve seen enough where it can feel like there’s a lot of the ‘I’m alright, Jack’ mentality here as opposed to countries like New Zealand, Vietnam and Australia. Of course, every country has its faults, so I don’t wish to idealise NZ, but they’ve certainly done a better job than we have containing the spread of this virus.
Over the last few months, I’ve been having dreams about New Zealand. I’ve always been a very vivid dreamer, so I can recall a lot of them in detail even now as I write this. I’m one of many where being-naked-on-stage insecurity dreams has been replaced by being-in-a-crowd-with-no-social-distancing-or-masks insecurity dreams and nightmares. I sometimes have nightmares that I’m around someone who’s showing symptoms but being blasé about it and/or neglected to tell me, and I’ve been close to them. Not nice, right?
Like most, not being able to see and/or hug my grandparents, my parents, my sister etc. takes its toll. Then I noticed something. I started having dreams about visiting New Zealand, moving there even, and being able to see my family and hug them and live ‘normally’, if only for a short while before having to return back to the UK. I often, if not always say in these dreams how strange it is, that we don’t have to do any distancing or mask wearing, and how much of a relief it is that I can actually see them. It gives me some glimmer of hope to tide me over as we collectively count down the days until we actually can.
Am I going to go into a Sigmund Freud-style deconstruction of my dreams? No. There’s no need to. It’s very clear why my subconscious is doing this. It’s giving me an escape. A place where I can actually be ‘normal’ and do what I want to more than anything right now. It’s creating an almost alternate world for me to have that release among the sustained emotional and mental turmoil we’re all experiencing in our waking lives right now.
Right here, right now, in a world where I can’t see my nearest and dearest, I can’t do what we all took for granted in the past and where I can’t do what I’ve forgot how to, socialise and in a way, love, my subconscious created a place for me where I can.
New Zealand has become my little beacon, a beacon I hope one day I can actually visit.