Holly Peters' digital diary documenting her experiences in lockdown is about to draw to a a close. After next week, Holly will join the other contributors to Plymouth Culture's Covid-19 digital diaries in looking towards the future. She will write four more entries between July - September. Here, in this penultimate entry documenting lockdown, Holly considers the things that have changed and things that maybe aren't so different after all.

'Birthday'

The parcels are dropped just outside the door and the dogs bark to alert us of their presence. All shapes and sizes, some light and some heavy. My little brother floats around them like a firefly to a flame, pestering me to tell him what’s inside.

Only days away from turning nineteen but some things never change.

In the morning, the table is full of presents adorned in sparkly paper. He rips the wrapping away excitedly and its discarded to the floor. He seems surprised that he’s surprised. Gifts he hadn’t asked for, gifts he hadn’t seen delivered despite buzzing around what had seemed like every delivery.

There are less cards than last year.

Normally on our birthdays Dad takes us out for breakfast. This year, Archie gets a trip to Costa drive-through. We order salted caramel Frostinos and he’s treated to a bacon sandwich. He seems content, nonetheless. Grateful.

As we drive, he chatters about his plans for a socially distanced barbecue to celebrate with his friends. Ones he hasn’t seen in months. The only hope for a spell of nice weather.

The cake Mum bakes is the same as every year. The traditional tower of cookie and brownie stuck together with lavish slathering’s of buttercream icing.

After Archie struggles to blow out his candles and we stuff ourselves full on too-big slices of cake, we crawl into the living room. There, my sister has connected her laptop to the screen and the faces of family and friends smiles out at us. Pixelated faces and crackled audio.

Playing a boardgame over videocall works unexpectedly well, snapping photos of the questions and shouting over wobbly internet connection. Our spaniel runs around the house searching for them, confused how they can be in the house and not all at the same time.

We learn that with good food and family, a birthday in lockdown wasn’t really that different to a birthday before. Adjusting, grateful.

Words by Holly Peters.

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