Zambesi's Smile Inside Stories
My smile story during lockdown was having the time with my family that we would not normally have and knowing that they were safe. We all took turns during the weeks to make up quizzes which we then did at weekends. Luckily the weather was on our side as these quizzes were done in the garden around the fire pit. Also the first time we were allowed to see one person outside of our household it was really nice reconnecting and catching up with friends and appreciating the people around us.
Lockdown taught everyone how to appreciate the small things, the small things were what made me smile. The news was full of negativity and what not to do, so for me focusing on the positives and what we did have was the best way to make me smile. Whether it was exercising in the park, a quiz night with friends or the ability to be able to take your time to see what we hadn’t before. We had the time to notice how the sun was shining and we had the time to be able to reconnect with ourselves. To remember what life was like before but also to live in the present. Seeing what we still had and realising that although the situation isn’t perfect, it’s still worth appreciating the small things. The small things were what made me smile.
Although lockdown wasn’t the best of experiences, there was a day which helped me to get through it. Mid lockdown, I decided to sneak out of the house late at night with a close friend from down the road. We packed our bags and set off early morning and headed to a field nearby just in time for sunrise. We only stayed for a couple hours, but that day allowed me to acknowledge the little things in life and not take anything for granted.
The thing that made me smile most in lockdown was when my cousin came and surprised me for my birthday, this was special to me as I wasn’t allowed to meet up with any of my friends or do anything big.
I was in the hospital from the beginning of June for three weeks and it was far away from home all the way in Southampton and I didn't know anyone that was going to be there. I met two new people there around my age and I was there for 3 weeks where I was being supervised by nurses when I was there and I also caught up with work and everything. The two people I met there, I became really close friends with and I talk to one of them everyday. The whole experience at the hospital was overall great, I will cherish a lot of the memories there for life.
I suffer from depression and when lockdown hit, it made it difficult for me mentally, so I tried to find things for me to do to take me out of my negative mindset. One evening, I just laid on the grass outside and looked up at the stars, I did this to clear my head, just focusing on the starry sky. I remember my dad joined me and we both just laid there talking about life.
During lockdown, every Friday most of our family would tune into ‘Brad’s Game Show’ which is basically a quiz run by a drag queen. There were loads of different rounds but in general I am terrible in quizzes (especially general knowledge. In the general knowledge I only got 1-2 questions correct a week but I remember one I fluked 6 correct answers, 3 of them about alcoholic drinks I had never heard of. However, there was one round that I could nail every time, the Disney round! My whole family are huge Disney fans and have watched nearly all the films thousands of times. Consequently, my family became very competitive, but when I say competitive, I mean low key violence!
After all the excitement we would have a good old catch up and just celebrate the end of another week really by eating our body weight in all kinds of food. As we went through the weeks it became something to look forward to as it was the one time a week I could have a proper belly laugh and forget anything that was happening.
My favourite memory of lockdown was when I was allowed to swim again. I have been swimming since I was about three, and up until before lockdown I swam eight times a week so when lockdown began, I felt quite lost with what to do with myself. My swimming team had zoom chats, but we just did gym to retain our fitness, so it wasn’t really the same. Once lockdown started to ease, open water swimming in lakes was allowed and so me and my friends decided to go.
I remember it was a really hot day and the sky was clear, and as soon as I got in the water I just felt so happy. My friends and I swam to the end of the lake where not many people were and we just floated on our backs, looking at the sky. I could faintly hear the music playing from the wakeboarding hut behind me; it felt so peaceful.
Something that made me smile in lockdown is the reconnection I had with my old primary school friendship group. It all started with a small comment I made to one of the girls I had stayed in contact with saying that we should do a reunion once lockdown had lifted. So we created a group chat and added whoever asked to join that was in our year at primary school. After a couple catch up conversations online we were already getting along well so we decided to do a group zoom call. These conversations became a very regular thing. After I had finished school work and dance classes, we would all talk for hours. Just that online interaction turned a really lonely time into something so fun and comforting. There was one call we had that lasted until the early hours of the morning where everyone completely opened up with each other and it was from that point onwards we sort of knew this friendship group would be more than just a one time reunion.
Once lockdown had eased and we were able to meet up, we were still very limited with what we were able to do- especially being a group of 9. So we used what we had and they've turned out to be some of the happiest memories I've made in a long time. We instantly got so close, almost picking up where we left off in year 6. I've learnt to appreciate the little things in life a lot more now, like watching the sun set and rise- we walk for so long trying to find the best place to set up a picnic and watch it. We always go for long walks in the pouring rain just to lay down in a field and talk for hours on end whilst getting completely drenched. One time when we were star gazing, we saw a shooting star and then they just kept coming- by the end of the night we saw 23, unwittingly watching a meteor shower. We met up every chance we all could until this second lockdown. They've turned out to be the greatest friends I could ever have asked for, I feel truly happy when I am with these people so that is why they're my smile story.
Baking cupcakes for my brothers Birthday. First time meeting friends after the lockdown rules relaxed. Going for runs with my dad. Building our new garden deck. At home prom. Family and friends quiz night. My dad meeting running friends “coincidentally”. Attending online concerts. Finding a sense of peace.
GCSEs had been cancelled and after all the non stop stress of constantly working I was suddenly left with nothing. There was no climax or big event- just one rushed leavers day and an announcement that we were done with secondary school 5 months early. I was truly lost; walking my dogs became my sanctuary. One day when I was feeling especially low and meaningless I ventured into parts of the forest I had never been and found myself on top of a large hill that overlooked the landscape. It was truly stunning and I sat there for hours while my dogs ran aimlessly around me. That moment gave me perspective and peace. I could finally breathe again.
I woke up and thought it was going to be another boring day of moping about but instead it turned into a memorable experience for me and my mum. I stepped out into the garden and the sun was beaming down. Mum and I spent probably 10 hours out in the sun mowing, potting and getting our hands a bit dirty amongst the soil. I planted my first tomato plant and watched it grow to make 2kgs of tomatoes which made me feel proud of accomplishing something in such a repetitive time. More than anything I loved spending time with my mum and forming unforgettable memories. Usually we are both so busy and even doing something simple like learning how to garden with her has turned into something sacred and special.