Yesterday afternoon, I met up with two friends whom I haven’t seen ‘in the flesh’ for the duration of this pandemic.
We had some socially distanced beers out in the open and it was one of the nicest things I’ve experienced in months. As of Monday, this was totally legal here in London – something I never thought I’d have to consider.
In the ‘old world’, we’d meet just down the street for Friday night drinks after work, every week, like clockwork. We’d throw back a few pints, discuss our work and our lives and wander off home whenever we’d had enough or could no longer read the menu clearly.
Not having had this experience in months meant yesterday was something to savour. We were drinking our beers from a can, not a glass. We were sitting by a fountain in the middle of Canary Wharf, not a bar. And we were absolutely freezing! But it was worth every moment of in-person social contact and every word of friendship and affection we exchanged.
Another bonus? Seeing the smiles on people’s faces around us. Not close by, but in the same outside space. People were genuinely happy to be together and their joy was infectious.
I think the biggest lesson I’ve taken from this whole year has been the benefits and joys of savouring experiences. I don’t want to take these things for granted anymore. Whether it’s a burrito on the sofa, sitting in the sunshine with a coffee or catching up with a friend over a can of IPA – these experiences are to be enjoyed in the moment.
Every time I took a can from my backpack (not a plastic bag – I’m not that basic) I checked which it was, took in the label, enjoyed the aroma when I opened it and savoured the first mouthful. All I kept thinking was: I don’t want this to end. But end it did. We just got too cold and the arctic wind coming in off the Thames was vicious and relentless.
Even though it was deeply uncomfortable and a flashback to being a student again, I loved every moment and can’t wait to do it again. Savouring the company, savouring the beer, savouring seeing people out and about again. With vaccination rates increasing impressively, I’m feeling optimistic about an end to all of this horror for the first time in a while.