The last week of staying at home, officially Week 7 of self-isolation, was probably the strangest. We were the most used to the ‘new normal’, with our routine of daily walks within two-kilometre limits, weekly grocery trips to Aldi, SuperValu, or the local off-licence. We’d notice – but become accustomed to – the deathly silence on the roads during an evening walk; it would only be around 9 o’clock, but it would feel like 4 in the morning, stumbling home from a night out. The idea of going out for a treat is now a takeaway coffee in the nearby petrol station, and I’ve almost forgotten when Cork city centre looks like, whatever about travelling to the rest of the country.
In spite of everything going on, I managed to join friends and family in officially launching my latest book, Forgiving Jake. Instead of the launch event being somewhere physical, like when I launched The Irish Outlander, this had to take place on Zoom, but it worked out well. I was also pleasantly surprised and somewhat grateful, as the online event meant that friends from Britain and California were able to join others here in Ireland. I read a chapter from the new book, as well as 2 poems (in both English and Irish) from my upcoming poetry collection, and answered questions about my writing from character planning to writing in Irish. I’m so grateful for those who were able to join me on the night, as well as those who watched back on the recording since then. It really is a humbling experience to experience such support from friends, loved ones, and general members of the public.
Stephen and I also joined friends in Dublin and Scotland over Zoom this week for a few birthday parties. They were a good laugh, and unexpectedly needed. Sometimes, the introvert in me thinks that I can fool myself into thinking this is all fine. That somehow, once I have my partner by my side, I’m able to handle this whole thing. While that is true, it doesn’t stop me from missing everyone else.
It will be a very welcome moment when we can all see and hug each other again, but those days will come soon enough – and then we’ll be all the more grateful for those moments.