24 hours with... an engaged couple in lockdown

Catriona Harvey-Jenner
·9-min read
Photo credit: Jessica Lockett | Jodie Mcewan | Getty Images
Photo credit: Jessica Lockett | Jodie Mcewan | Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to run rife in the UK, we’re back in lockdown again. We’ve all been instructed to follow the same rules (more or less) - but how that actually looks from person-to-person is surprisingly unique. With so many different living, working, and personal situations at play, each week Cosmopolitan invites a different reader to share a glimpse into their life over a 24-hour period….

Cat is a 30-year-old journalist who lives in London with her partner of five years, Ryan. For the duration of the pandemic, they have both been living and working from home in their flat. She has felt very lucky to have had a stable home environment throughout this time, and even enjoyed some of the slowness of lockdown 1.0. But as we enter a second year of the coronavirus crisis – the year they’re supposed to get married – the ongoing uncertainty has been taking its toll.

Photo credit: Jessica Lockett | Getty Images
Photo credit: Jessica Lockett | Getty Images

7.30am: I wake up fuming, because it’s 7.30am. Did nobody tell my body clock it’s the weekend?! During the weekdays, my boyfriend (well, technically he’s been my fiancé for the past year but I always feel like a bit of a dick saying the word fiancé out loud) Ryan and I have got into a routine of waking up at 7am and dragging ourselves out of bed for a morning workout in the living room on Fiit. It’s the only exercise I’ve ever enjoyed and managed to stick to, but even I – with my new found taste for working out – feel absolutely no desire to do it on a weekend. Back to sleep it is.

8.10am: It’s not happening. I shouldn’t have looked at the time – that was where I went wrong. Ryan rolls over to my side and, sweet as I think it is at first, I quickly realise he’s not angling for a morning cuddle, he just likes my pillow. I’ve got an Eve memory foam one and he's been talking about investing in his own for ages. I make a mental note to see if they’ve restocked them online. I tried to buy him one for Christmas (appreciate how dull this makes me sound) but they were completely sold out everywhere. What kind of pillow sells out?!

8.20am: I give in to the day, as early as it is, and pick up my book from my bedside table. I’m reading Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, which is the third in the Crazy Rich Asians series and I’ve had it for a couple of years but never read – those books are a complete guilty pleasure for me. I’m also listening to Barack Obama’s A Promised Land on Audible, because I'm totally rounded like that...

9am: This is perhaps the most productive morning I’ve ever had (and not just because I’m writing this diary, I promise). Lying in bed, I remember all the recent/upcoming events I need to buy cards for, so I do a bulk buy on Thortful (four for £10, it’s been a lifesaver throughout lockdown. Who doesn’t like a hand-written card through the door every now and then?). I put an engagement, a new home, a Valentine’s Day and a 30th birthday card in my basket, and reflect on how funny it is that the world keeps turning, even in lockdown.

10am: I pour myself a bowl of Nesquik (weekend treat because clearly I am a child) and put on Saturday Kitchen (or maybe I am middle aged). It’s become a bit of a weekend favourite; for me it marks the end of another week (and the start of the weekend), which I’ve found quite helpful in getting through these lockdowns. Plus the food always gives us good ideas for what to make at home and they drink wine at 10am, which I am fully on board with.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

11.30am: Our weekend ritual continues as we set off on a long walk. This lockdown, I’ve found it helps to get up and out for a one- or two-hour walk on weekends because it makes me feel like I’ve done something with the day, rather than having an open-ended void of time to fill. We wrap up (it’s raining 🙄) and take our usual route through Greenwich Park, stopping for a takeaway coffee to warm up, before doing a lap of all the massive houses we'll never be able to afford in Blackheath.

We live in a one-bedroom flat without a garden and, while I feel very thankful to have a safe home and an expanse of beautiful open space right on our doorstep, I’ve noticed these walks have made us both quite pensive about what we want in the future. Every walk seems to yield a discussion about what kind of house we'd like (preferably one that would fit a child in a few years - nice as our flat is, we cannot keep a baby in the airing cupboard) and where we might live. I like these conversations, but they also can feel like a reminder of the stand-still world we're currently living in.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

1pm: We round off our walk with a trip to the local butchers. We get most of our food from fortnightly supermarket trips, but since the pandemic began the only real hobby Ryan and I have developed is cooking elaborate meals at home. Sometimes we dress up for them, sometimes we don’t, but cooking up some nice food on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon feels like an occasion when there generally isn’t one (and it also gives me something to Instagram). We get all our meat and fish for these meals from the butchers and fishmongers nearby, and I like feeling like we’re doing a small part to support local businesses. I head in with my mask and buy pig cheeks for a sherry-braised pork dish I'm making tomorrow, and a few other bits.

3.45pm: Back home, Ryan starts making a chocolate Guinness cake. It's inspired by his love of the drink and in mourning for the fact he hasn't had an ice cold one in a pub for longer than he would care to remember. The smells wafting through the flat are 10/10.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

4pm: I’ve got a FaceTime planned with my mum to talk her through setting up her Apple Watch. It lasts for honestly about two-and-a-half hours, which is a reflection of how well (ahem) she understands the new piece of technology on her arm. I’m happy to be speaking to her, though. I found myself getting tearful yesterday as I had a moment where I really missed her (and my dad). They live a few hours away and the thought of not seeing them for so many more months feels a bit bleak, but I know most people are in the same boat.

It feels worse when I think about all the things we had planned to do around now; Ryan and I are supposed to be getting married in December this year. We haven’t had to postpone a wedding yet - we got engaged just before the pandemic hit and booked it for a time we felt confident was far enough in the future (the irony). We don’t have it anywhere near as bad as so many other couples right now, but I do get a bit down when I think about how tainted it has already been with so many uncertainties, and how many people probably won't be able to come to the wedding. I would have loved to have been able to go dress shopping with my mum by now, but that won’t be possible for quite some time yet…

7pm: Tonight, in an attempt to do something a bit different with yet another lockdown Saturday, Ryan has planned a 'home cinema night' (don’t laugh, there are only so many 1,000 piece puzzles I can do). He's making us hot dogs (I have never personally eaten these in the cinema but I’m going to take his word for it), we’ve bought popcorn (sweet and salty, no contest) and we’re going to pick a good film to watch in pitch black.

Photo credit: Jessica Lockett | Getty Images
Photo credit: Jessica Lockett | Getty Images

7.10pm: My jeans come off in advance of the film. The fact I even wore them for five whole hours during lockdown is an achievement I reckon, so I don’t feel guilty wearing my pyjamas 'to the cinema'.

7.30pm: Ryan kicks off the night by pouring us a drink each and playing the Odeon theme tune out loud on the speakers. You know the one. He thinks it’s hilarious and I laugh a lot. Lockdown's really getting to us, hey?

8pm: Half an hour into Marriage Story on Netflix and I truly feel like I’m at the cinema, mainly because of the passive aggressive look I get when the flash of my phone screen lighting up disturbs another movie watcher (Ryan).

9.45pm: Finish Marriage Story and I’m in floods. Not entirely sure why, but I just feel very affected by *SPOILER* how real and difficult the couple’s relationship became. Both characters are so flawed and yet in other ways, they're validated in their own complaints of the marriage. Very moving. I silently vow never to get a divorce, and then decide I should share the sentiment with Ryan. I yell, "PLEASE LET’S NEVER SPLIT UP," out of nowhere, and despite looking a bit alarmed, he agrees, which is reassuring.

11.30pm: After a few more drinks and watching nothing in particular on TV, we climb into bed, ready to go to sleep and wake up to... well, basically the same all over again tomorrow.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Follow Cat on Instagram.

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