In many ways this has been a hard year for me so far, as I am sure it has been for many of my readers.
The winter was horribly dark and rainy with no snow, so I suffered more badly than usual from SAD. We had booked to travel to summer sun and my family over the worst of the winter but we were unable to go. We bought and sold property just as COVID-19 hit with full force so it was a bit of a nail-biter as to whether the sale ‘chain’ would go through from one end to the other (there were 5 properties being bought and sold in our chain). Then it was a worry as to whether there would be a lockdown, leaving us unable to move house.
Fluffy has been back and forth to the vet more than 10 times this year and at one time there was a very real worry as to whether he would make it. When they suspected he had COVID-19 we thought it would be tickets for him (that is a very South African idiom!). He also has bad arthritis and has been in so much pain.
Social distancing, no hugs, waves of bankruptcies, job worries, and signs everywhere of our new reality tended to gnaw away at me without me realising it, leaving me with an unsettled feeling about our surreal new world. We had booked flights to spend the whole of July with my family in South Africa but they were cancelled by the airline about a month ago. Not being able to travel to see my family made me sad, particularly as I desperately want to see my 85 year old aunt, who has been my mother for 40 years. I have not seen her for two years. My daughter had to cancel her 15 August wedding too.
At the same time both my husband and I were working at home with various technological challenges. I have never had a job where I was stuck in one place all day and not being out in the field all day was a huge adjustment for me. Technology was not my friend – I had a screen crack on my old computer, followed by a hardware crash in its replacement. I had to teach hundreds of students online, which I found exhausting. Switching between Teams, Skype, Zoom, Kudos, FaceTime and phone from one hour to the next was a challenge.
Added to that, reading about COVID-19 and other world problems all the time really ate away at me. It feels so petty given that I belong to a pretty privileged part of the population and have a good life. But the constant undercurrents and unavoidable daily statistics wear away at you like water dripping on a rock.
So the end of this teaching term has left me feeling exhausted. We are so happy in our new home that it took me a while to realise that the constant dark storm of 2020 has been exhausting. It is something that you cannot get away from, no matter how hard you try.
But today my boss really cheered me up. I went in to the office to drop off all my attendance registers and found a lovely handwritten card thanking me for all the extra work I put in this term – and a generous gift voucher with strict instructions to spend it frivolously on a want rather than a need.
So I took myself off and bought myself a new large Longchamp Le Pliage in purple and blue.
I was tempted to get a plain red or grey with the traditional brown leather trim, but I thought ‘frivolous!’ and went for this one. I had been planning on getting another Le Pliage at some point, and had my eye on his one because I like the colours. My two primary choices were grey and yellow and blue and purple.
I do have a light blue and a black in the traditional leather colour way, so this will be a nice change. The piping and snap button are in contrast colours, as is the embroidered logo, which you do not get on the regular tote. I was also intrigued by a large black Neo which was on sale because the nylon is thicker and the leather is better. But it does not fold and snap like the regular ones, and I did not like the heavy duty plastic teeth on the zipper.
I normally do not stay in the same bag or bag style for long but this year has been weird in more ways than one. I have been more desk bound and have not had the urge or the energy to change things up. So for almost seven months I have been in my black Le Pliage