There will be, for most of us living in Melbourne, no holiday snaps to memorialise this year. No big weddings. No gathering of old friends at the comedy festival. Instead our lives, for much of the past six months, have been spent inside our homes and nodding politely to our neighbours on the same daily walk.
Our scrapbook of the year would contain recipes for sourdough, reminders to never make sourdough again, homemade mask patterns and, for a few glorious weeks in May and June, an awkward photo of 10 people awkwardly spaced apart on metal chairs at the local beer garden, jubilant that they are finally able to go to the pub.
There is a risk, if we don’t pin down those memories, that our recollection of 2020 will be three days long. It’s hard to remember what happened when the days all feel the same.
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But the days have not all been the same, not really. There was the day that sourdough recipe finally worked, or the day you found the starter had escaped and was consuming the fridge like the monster from a 1950s horror movie.
There were the days that thousands of us were furloughed, made redundant, or had to close a family business. The day parents had to tell their kids that they were going to be learning from home again. The day government assistance payments came through, or didn’t come through. The day a loved one finally made it through the weekly international arrivals cap and came out of quarantine. The pregnancies and quarantine babies. The days that grandchildren sat outside the aged care home, waving at the grandparents. The tragic tasks of selecting just 10 people to attend a funeral.
There was the day we watched in horror as police cars circled nine public housing towers, as the premier, Daniel Andrews, announced that the towers’ 3,000 residents would spend the next five days locked inside.
There were the protests. More than 20,000 people marching for Black Lives Matter, bearing signs with the numbers 432 – Guardian Australia’s count, sadly now increased, of the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died in custody since 1991. People standing outside the public housing towers. The day 74 people from a crowd of 250 were arrested protesting for the end of Melbourne’s lockdown laws, organised by those who think the virus that has killed more than 700 people in Victoria alone is a conspiracy.
We want to see your scrapbooks. The highs and the lows. Specifically, a photograph you took after the Covid-19 was declared a pandemic – 11 March – showing your personal experience of these past months. These are not the kind of photographs you would hang on your wall, but the true images that define your year.
It could be the 10-metres of interfacing you accidentally ordered for making face masks. Sitting on the couch with your partner in matching track pants. A montage of the neighbourhood cat that you coaxed, over months of daily walks, into greeting you for pats. A cupboard that is embarrassingly full of toilet paper, or one that is worryingly bare. A veranda covered in wood panelling that you ripped from your house in a moment of renovation zeal and now can’t get anyone to pick up. The day you and your best friend both drove 5km from your respective houses to meet at the supermarket in the middle, and all those elbow taps your dad insisted on doing when you were still allowed to drop things off at his house.
Together we will form a picture of the year. So when your children ask what you were doing in 2020, you will be able to point them to this. And show off your lopsided sourdough.