Nicola Alpe is a Kiwi usually living in Los Angeles, navigating Americans, motherhood and bad traffic.
We smashed our bubble over the weekend. Our bubble was well and truly destroyed with multiple social gatherings, planned and ad hoc. Nowadays I don't drink much, or often. So it wasn't like the bubble smashing of my youth which sometimes required an anti-nausea jab in the backside from my high school boyfriend's dad - a doctor - to stop me vomiting for hours on end. Newsflash Mum and Dad: I was an underage drinker.
By Friday afternoon our tiny settlement where we have been residing since February and with only a handful of others during lockdown, was heaving with delighted couples and families drunk on a change of scenery.
By 8pm Friday I was missing my bubble. Friday night drinks had left me shattered.
Ten adults (sticking to the rules at all times, of course) all let loose after weeks of being cooped up was intense.
I noted the level of intoxication in the room. It was significant, but we'd only been there 45-minutes at this stage, so it couldn't have been alcohol induced. Rather the intoxication of long awaited socialisation.
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The noise was extreme. At one stage I counted the people in the room, not to be militant about the rules around the gathering, but because I wondered how so few people could create such noise. The sheer amount of words tumbling out of people's mouths - and so quickly. The level of disclosure from people was way too much. Conversations went from enquiries about our health to politics in a heartbeat. Everyone was Mr Have-a-Chat, yet I was out of chat.
While enjoying myself, I just didn't have the energy to make the rounds and enquire about everyone's isolation. Furthermore, I didn't have the desire to speak about our own that much. Yes, we were here. Yes, it was wonderful, and we are very grateful. No, there weren't other kids here but that was okay because our daughter couldn't play with them anyway. No, we have no idea when we can go home yet. Yes, we miss LA madly, but life is so different right now, so we will stay here for the time being.
Last year I went away by myself for four nights to a retreat in Palm Springs. It was the first time I'd been truly on my own in about five years. I was dying for some time alone. I was ready to tear my husband's face off if he woke me up with the light from a device or committed a similar criminal act one more time.
I was the person at dinner with a book, disinterested in speaking to anyone. For four days I revelled in the peace, yet my husband kept enquiring if I had met anyone interesting yet.
So much energy is required for conversation, even if it's just "Mummy!" on repeat. I ordered food and sincerely thanked people after classes and treatments but that was where it ended. I felt so restored by my silence. Conversation can be tiring, and Friday night was tiring. I flopped on the couch to eat dinner and was completely worn out. All I could say was that I was totally overwhelmed by the evening, which was ridiculous as I can talk with the best of them and am, for the most part, a social beast.
In the future, if I politely say no to an invitation, please don't be offended, as I will try not to be if you say no to me. Maybe I just need to reset. Or maybe, and I say this in the nicest possible way, I just can't be bothered.