Peppermint Tea On Day 14...

By Lucy Harbron - 15:32

I don’t think I‘ve ever drunk more peppermint tea, wanting to exist with the taste in my mouth 24/7 recently. I associate mint with neutral, with post-toothbrush safety in bed or breathing in tea steam in 10 controlled breaths and feeling the panic go. I think of my mum teaching me to like it, entering my life as a coping mechanism more than anything, sipped slowly and it’ll be okay.

I’ve noticed I’ve started making my bed while I’m still in it, something I heard once that my Aunty did. An immediate to-do list tick, you can wake up and already pat yourself on the back, a double achievement if you then manage to get out of it.

I baked a cake, the universal sign of ‘I need to find something to do’. Carrot cake to taste like home, like making signs to differentiate types of crisps at family parties, like the tea and coffee after a Sunday roast, like the compliments flung round the table by my grandparents at the masterpiece I’d made now chopped up and drowned in custard. Like the smell of my grandma’s house or my mum’s kitchen. It’s just something we’d do.

I wish I could buy everyone lemonade and honey. Starting to wish I could go see them all, diligently watch the lemonade in the microwave just in case, stir in manuka honey and take them the concoction to drink and importantly, the spoon to suck. I’ve been trained my whole life in the benefits as if manuka honey could save lives, yet no one else seems clued up.

Opening windows, hot flannels, small walks, staying busy. I’ve been raised on a personal health system of ways to survive. There’s a sense when you’re younger that parents are magic, always seeming to be there with a cure that you trust blindly. It’s not until 21 that I’ve realised that the trust has become a reliance, trying to recreate the assurance of those scenes over and over on my own, especially now.

It’s strange thinking you’re living through history but all you could do was stay home and survive. You imagine that it would be grand, fights and protests and shouting in the streets, but this is just silence. I drink tea and read and try to find something to write about after 2 weeks of looking from wall to wall, thinking what a boring story this will be to tell my kids about one day. Maybe I’ll exaggerate it. Or terrifyingly, maybe this won’t make it into the history book, eclipsed by something bigger and all our community efforts and clapping from balconies forgotten in the background. I hope not.

While I miss coffee and drinks and standing close to my friends, I feel like I’m getting to know people better than ever as all our survival strategies come to the forefront. I have friends who have retired to bed with hot whiskey and Netflix, while others go out for runs and spend the day in work out clothes. And I’m falling somewhere in the middle, learning that my fall back exists in the space between productivity and rest, writing and watching films and finally learning why everyone else seems to love ice cream so much. I get the sense that when we all come back together, our friendships will feel fuller and more understanding than ever, a strange positive in a scary situation. I dedicate a lot of time in my day to dreaming about the first pint in a beer garden, sitting close and laughing. The first sweaty darkroom in a club. The first cappuccino, slowly going cold as we sit on the wobbly table outside. The first shopping day, first pizza out, first visit from my parents, first train journey. I sit patiently waiting for the world I’d got used to, to feel new again, babies bored in the womb, waiting for an all-clear with the rest of the world.

I try to think of that more than the distrust and fear that my own body has taken on. Soothing the suspicion in my coughs with my mother’s concoction, distracting from the knot in my stomach with cake, pushing through the exhaustion of doing nothing by making my bed while I’m still in it, then dragging myself out. 

Day 14 of who knows how many, mug 4 of peppermint tea as a way of trying to cope with that.   

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