When the singles bubble was announced, I found myself awash with what people much cooler than me call “the feels”. Relief. Excitement. Terror. I’ll be able to have a hug! I’ll be able to sit on a couch with someone and do nothing! I’ll have to clean my house!
Luckily I escaped the horror of having to choose between my excellent group of single friends who live alone. Or should I say I escaped the horror of having to ask someone to be my singles bubble who might not want to commit to me being their singles bubble.
I’m not sure how I would have convinced them. I have a video player and The Man From Snowy River on VHS? I have a very challenging Georges Seurat puzzle that will kill a few hours? My flat is in the Deliveroo zone for Messina gelato?
The lucky escape from this hellish judgment comes simply because one of my besties was born six years after me into the same family and also lives alone. Someone I bullied into having the same taste in pop culture and junk food as me. Yep, my sister was going to be my singles bubble buddy.
How sweet our bubble time would be: she would come over early Saturday night, we would have a great hug, we’d cook the last pack of a discontinued packet macaroni dish I’d saved for a special occasion, we’d watch Hello, Dolly! while complaining about how perfect the movie would be without that grumpy old bastard Walter Matthau, then she’d go home.
Yet the plans of one who’d been jacked up on coffee for a month without company never do run smooth, and my sister, let’s call her Sarah, because that’s her name, arrived at 3pm. As I greeted her in the shared courtyard of my building, I went for a hug.
“I don’t think we can do that.” she said.
“We’re bubbling, of course we can.”
“Not here, everyone’ll see!”
By the time we were inside, she’d forgotten about a hug. There’d be no hug.
“I’ve got some click-and-collect from K-mart, so let’s go for a walk,” was her next suggestion. A walk?! That’s what people who don’t have a singles bubble do. People who do have a singles bubble sit around on each other’s couches and eat nice cheese or drink wine, don’t they?
Nope. Turns out people with a singles bubble walk too. We grabbed the dogs and walked the almost-empty streets to the shopping centre.
Along the way there and back, a bunch of things happened that were made better by having a human there who wasn’t in a hurry: we walked past a friend, her partner and their baby and I got to spend the next five minutes taking my sister through how special this friend is; we came upon a garden that looked like a baby Brides of Christ set and started imagining up the nonna who’d planted it; and as we turned a corner back into my street my sister pointed out the balcony where the Strictly Ballroom Coke sign scene was filmed and suddenly I loved my neighbourhood a little bit more.
Hot Fuzz replaced Hello, Dolly!, takeaway burgers replaced the mac cheese. Nothing went as planned, but I went to bed buoyed by having some actual face-to-face company.
This mood, the one that comes from hanging with someone fun, hung around until the next morning because while I was having a coffee watching Insiders I actually started drafting a “thank you for the singles bubble card” to New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard as David Speers grilled him about the lockdown. That’s how upbeat I felt.
Sunday came and with it another visit from Sarah (still no hug). We had a moment of triumphant joy after discovering while none of our streamers had A League of Their Own, I had it on VHS. Watching the furry screen and marvelling at how brilliant a young Rosie O’Donnell is flung us back to our childhood, putting this video on so many times we wrecked the tape. She introduced me to “chip masala” (salt and vinegar chips, Twisties and pieces of chocolate mixed in a bowl) while I bawled over the grand injustice of the hundreds of years women’s sport hasn’t been taken as seriously as men’s.
An attempt on the Georges Seurat puzzle was made and quickly aborted.
Pretty dull, right? In pre-Covid life, this wouldn’t have been a successful weekend. I might have even seen it as wasted – without any theatre or cafes or dinners with friends. In this pandemic life it’s a gift to spend time with someone doing nothing and being boring, especially if you’re someone who’s been alone in lockdown for five weeks.
Connection with another person keeps the black dog from the door for a few extra hours, days, weeks and maybe even months. It fills the hours with more joy as we watch them tick by, hoping to get out of lockdown. It even creates some sort of new shared life.
The thing is: even though lockdown is harsh and isolating, it’s a little less so after this past weekend.