While I love Sydney, Melbourne is my home. The cries of “Cazaly” in September; the chink of coffee machines as bearded baristas craft the “superior” drop; the tree-lined, hay fever-including boulevards; the peal of trams; the seemingly endless, always inflated smashed avo on toast; my friends; my family. Melbourne, with all its idiosyncrasies – both glorious and vexing – is home.
So with Melbourne in the midst of a months-long, rather draconian lockdown, and with today being R U OK? Day, I thought why not put the question to my friends, family and peers back home. Because as the non-for-profit organisation vows: a conversation can change a life.
Here, we ask the people of Melbourne: R U OK?
“September in Richmond is usually the most exciting time of the year. Sun is out and footy finals are on. Now it’s complete fear if you make it down your stairs to the front door and you realise you left your mask, only to walk out to empty streets and for sale signs on your favourite shops and restaurants. You can truly feel the heavy and drained hearts all round. I am a yoga teacher who is dedicated to others and their wellbeing to currently being labeled as “non-essential” and out of work since March.
A testament to Melburnians and their strength – with everyone masked up you now notice when people smile with their eyes.”
Kara, 34, Yoga teacher
“Nothing challenges me more than adversity. It is when we’re down that we find out just how capable we are of the hardest tasks. This time has allowed reflection, regrouping and a roadmap for what will be my most successful year yet.
My heart bleeds for my home city. Once alive with the robust buzz of inescapable activity, it now lays dormant like a caged animal. More so than ever I am grateful for my family and friends living through this shoulder to shoulder. As cliche as it sounds, ‘we’re all in this together’ is frightfully simple yet totally accurate.”
Elliot, 29, Stylist
“A psychologist once suggested that I try applying my attitude toward my sense of style to other aspects of my life. Struggling with anxiety and depression for 20 years, I have always carried with me a great deal of self-doubt; but when it comes to getting dressed, I possess an unwavering confidence. As an overthinking, self critical perfectionist this has been pretty liberating.
“With Melbourne in its ongoing second lockdown, there is no reason to get dressed. There is no reason to do much at all. It has been particularly tough and every day has felt suffocatingly bleak. Although this might seem superficial to care about to some, for me, and I’m sure for others, getting dressed is an outlet for creativity and self-expression which has now been stifled. In an attempt to hold onto myself any way I can, I make sure there are days that I still get dressed. Because in such “uncertain times” it’s nice to be sure of the fact I can still throw an outfit together.”
maya, 34, fashion buyer
“It feels like Groundhog Day, but for every negative you have to draw a positive. I’m lucky that I am not living on my own, but I have friends who are, and they are struggling mentally. So it’s important to check in on everyone and stay connected. We will come out of this stronger and more appreciative of the smaller things in life.
A lot of cooking, takeout, video games and B-grade comedies on Netflix have definitely helped pass the time.”
Dion, 29, actor
“To be honest, I’m struggling a fair bit this time around. I have elderly grandparents so I worry about them, and I haven’t seen my parents since January so I miss them a lot. It’s a really difficult time for all of Victoria, especially seeing the rest of Australia opening back up. I’ve really focussed on getting my one hour of exercise in and finding new hobbies. I’ve been teaching myself flower arranging, which has been so great in helping me switch off and channel my energy into something positive and beautiful.”
Rebecca, 30, Model
“Lock down has been really tough as you could imagine. For me personally, someone who travels so much, it has been a dramatic change in my life. I’ve also really struggled without being able to do what I love and my job of being a DJ. Not having that buzz and energy that I get from performing has been really hard to replace and I don’t feel complete or like myself. Having said that, I’ve also really enjoyed the downtime. I’ve been using it to be creative, making lots of music and in different styles. I’ve also found a new love for running! I am really looking forward to having a beer with my mates in the sunshine, which hopefully will be soon :)”
Tyson, 33, DJ and music producer
“Living in lockdown is hard, and the roadmap out looks pretty bleak. But I’ve somewhat accepted this restricted way of living as ‘our new normal’ now. Raising a toddler who has spent a third of her life in lockdown hasn’t been easy, explaining to a 18 mth old why she can’t play on the playground, have playdates with other kids or see her grandparents has been challenging. But practising gratefulness each day for my family, our health and my job has helped get me through it. Watching other states and other countries around the world, who were in similar situations regain sort of normalcy gives me hope for the future.”
fiona, 33, marketing manager and mum
“The second Melb lockdown is what it is for the health of Victoria – stay home and stay safe so we can eradicate the virus to then open up the economy and enable travel within our state and between others. It’s harsh, but it is a worldwide pandemic we will live with for some time. Everyone has to search within themselves for an optimistic outlook…I want to be able to go to the beach in summer! I am fortunate at this time to have a partner at home that makes the curfew not an issue and we are just living and working at home, and gaining a newfound routine of doing exercises at home and getting out for a walk everyday to see the neighbourhood. I’m getting more comfortable within myself to do things on my own. We have had our Netflix binges – sometimes a few hours at once and this week, I have started to re-read a book. I’m so much better at online shopping, a skill I picked up in lockdown as I now have time. I have my fabulous Julie Fleming sun hat ready for my next trip to Greece or Lorne or bayside! Small businesses need everyone’s support now more than ever to get through the shutdowns. We will be wearing masks for sometime in the future and I dream of the day the rest of the world may be ready for us to travel again. Lockdown has encouraged me to talk to, text and email friends far more than I used to and it’s good for both of us – for our wellbeing.”
Wendy, Over 60, Designer of taxidibywendybannister.com
“We saw some light at the end of the tunnel with lockdown supposed to end next Sunday night, but now it’s definitely gone. I miss seeing my friends, having people over and wearing something other than activewear. Days now consist of morning walks, coffee, working from the dining table, afternoon walks, wine and TV. Day after day…after day…after day. It feels like any sort of normality is months and months away.”
Ashini, 34, creative director
“A constant feeling of unease, concerned for my kids future, missing my family and friends and the little things like our weekly zoo visits and trips to the museum, baby chinos in the park and spontaneous picnics on the top of our local playground. I’m encouraged by my toddler and pre-schooler’s adaptability, resilience and their constant source of bliss and playfulness with each other. Their blossoming and unbreakable bond. I’m thankful they have each other and Dave and I have them.”
Emma, 34, Associate Nurse Unit Manager of Child Psychiatry and mum
“In Melbourne I was born and bred
Never left this lovely city
Once so lively now so dead
It’s painfully quiet and empty
In sixty-four years on earth
I’ve not lived through a disaster
Not taking all for full worth
The new blow has hit harder
Everyone I know is very down
We did everything so right
Our soul punctured as is our town
Are we losing this costly fight?
Sad for helpless old and frail
Young, no school or social life
In future it’ll be an historic tale
Difficulty in believing such strife
A mask is our main accessory
It doesn’t protect us from pain
Separated from all the country
Living with uncertainty in vain
To all you “invincible” arse holes
Apparently bigger than this covid virus
May you get ducked heartless souls
As we battle through this crisis”
Ioanna, 64, Mum