The first thing I’m going to do when this pandemic is over: an afternoon inside with my friends

Three o’clock in the afternoon. The six of us huddled together on the sofa, spilling onto the floor. We are an hour into the first Shrek film and our bowls are half empty, having once contained popcorn – a choice of sweet, salted or both. Drinks are flowing between us all; some on cider, some lager, others on spirits. We aren’t looking to get drunk today; the alcohol merely accompanies our snacks (Kat has bought round a variety of crisps in addition to the popcorn I provided).

I must have been eight when I last watched Shrek but I am hardly paying attention now. I am more focused on the company and the fact that I am breathing in the same air as the ones I love. We have been kept apart from so long and now here they are, mere centimetres from me; it feels like a dream. I want to stay close to them forever. This afternoon is lovely; wholesome, and I never want it to end. I’m sure that soon this day will be followed by tens, hundreds more just like it and they will all blend into one, but for now this is the epitome of what I want.

This is the day I have been dreaming of, the thought of this kept me going when the world seemed hopeless and the loneliness never-ending. On those bad days it wasn’t a holiday I needed, or a night out, it was an afternoon inside with my friends.

In the past year, I have seen my friends’ grainy images on my laptop screen more often than I have seen their faces in person. Poor internet connection has caused the issues of talking over or unknowingly interrupting others, crowded group calls have left people sat listening to a conversation they can’t contribute to, and the lack of concrete plans has left calls being missed or forgotten while in-person plans have taken priority.

When Covid restrictions are lifted in the UK, the first thing I want to do is to see my friends in an everyday, normal environment. I want to experience the kind of the day that could quickly be forgotten in the coming months but at that moment feels like everything. In these days where Covid remains a prevalent fear, I dream of an afternoon eating pizza and drinking with my friends; I dream of existing in the same room as them.

I don’t want to rush back into the big wide world with everyone else, I want to focus on those few people that have made all this time that bit more bearable. Mostly, I want to give them all a big hug, whether as a comfort or a thank you; I want them to know I appreciate them.

The day we can once again reunite inside without worry is one I am longing for. I didn’t know how much I had taken those ordinary days for granted in the past and I hope I don’t ever do the same again. To be able to see each other not through a screen or while wrapped under blankets to survive the freezing temperatures feels like a luxury right now, but when this is over I will rejoice in their company.

I cannot wait to be with them again, in person and not at a distance.

I will hug them. I will thank them. I will probably cry.

I will be happy; it will be worth the wait.

Image courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez.

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