Two men sat down to eat simultaneously despite a seven hour time difference separating them. Anticipation was high in both locations. For one it was a break from the working day to refuel, for the other a chance to indulge. The first man held his phone in one hand while looking at Greyhound bus connections, the second held a menu. Both offered a wide variety of possibilities. A rustle of foil in one location, the clinking of wine glasses and cutlery in the other. The worker tucked into his ham and cheese sandwich on white bread. Not ideal preparation for a spring break in Florida. A moment on the lips, forever on the hips. “And for sir, the bat soup.” Highly recommended by the house. A moment on the lips, cancel all your trips.
Rumours. My favourite Fleetwood Mac album. No really, it’s the truth. The rumour that Covid-19 was triggered by some bat soup spread like wildfire. To my knowledge the genesis of the virus has not been discovered and I’m not sure what Phil Collins has to do with it anyway. We’re packing the music puns in today. And yes, the first paragraph was an entirely fictional scenario. Certainly my first exposure to the pandemic was when my brother, ever the conspiracy theorist said to me at work, “someone ate a bat apparently and there’s going to be a pandemic.” My response was to tell him that it was a load of bollocks.
Bollocks. A word I have used on multiple occasions this year as planned events have fallen by the wayside due to Covid. Four weeks in America: cancelled. Two weeks in Spain: cancelled. Glastonbury: cancelled. Weekends in Warsaw and Cardiff: cancelled. Elrow Town: you guessed it, cancelled. I could go on. Cancel culture hit my year like a Mike Tyson hook. KO.
Tyson himself has obviously felt the lockdown boredom, announcing a planned boxing comeback in the last couple of months. I’d like to take this opportunity to distance myself from the rumours suggesting I am planning to fight Iron Mike. When we initially went into lockdown it seemed like it would be a couple of months to stay safe and also an opportunity to work on a little self development or a side project. This is my side project. That couple of months has slowly expanded to the point where it is almost five months since the madness began. The clock doesn’t stop ticking even in a pandemic.
For me that ticking clock was magnified every time I checked off another cancelled event or holiday and there have been some pretty low moments. How can you not feel bad about things when you’re supposed to be in a packed stadium watching Wrestlemania live but instead you’re on the sofa in your pants at 3AM watching it with a Bombay Bad Boy in your hands. The Pot Noodle, get your mind out of the gutter. This moment came pretty early in the entire lockdown experience too, at the beginning of April. It was then I resolved to make up for the lost time.
Truth be told I have been on a bit of a mission to make up for lost time for the last few years anyway, even before the current apocalypse started rumbling into action. As I’ve stated in a previous post, I have suffered with mental health issues for as long as I can remember. I turn 30 in 2021 and as a minor epiphany shortly after my 28th birthday I decided I would grab the bull by the horns and squeeze as much out of the last two years of my twenties as possible. I said yes to almost every opportunity offered to me, I planned exciting, challenging trips and I thought seriously about bucket list items I wanted to tick off. 2020 was set to be my busiest year yet.
The first of those bucket list items was to travel to Wrestlemania. I have threatened it for the last five or six years without ever having the bottle to actually book the trip on my own. Ben 2020 (Ben 10 but 202 times better) wouldn’t be afraid to fly to America on his own and spend a weekend doing something he has wanted to do since he was a child. He would also stop talking about himself in the third person, starting from now. That’s better. So I bought tickets for Wrestlemania. Next on the list was getting to Tampa. It was expensive. So expensive that I decided to look for flights to other parts of America and have a lay over somewhere before flying into Tampa. At this point a lightbulb pinged above my head.
The cheapest flights into America were to New York and Boston. Two cities I have always wanted to visit. Yes, always. My first words were, “I want to go to New York and Boston.” As a sports fan, academic, tea party enthusiast and occasional viewer of Cheers, Boston was the natural choice for me. But why miss out on New York too when it is only a short hop away? Following 2019’s interrail escapades it struck me to work my way across and downwards from Boston, using the Greyhound as opposed to the train. This way I could tick off even more cities on my way. I could don a grey tracksuit and run up the Rocky Steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I could visit the White House and see the cherry blossom in Washington. The possibilities were endless.
As we know, endless soon morphed into ended. One by one the events I had booked were sent to the guillotine. I’m very mindful of the fact that things could have been much worse. People have died and lost loved ones as a result of this. In the grand scheme of things I will still get to go and see Guns N Roses (another cancelled event), just in 2021 rather than 2020. I still have my health. It is perfectly fine and natural to be sad about missing out on things still however. What wasn’t fine was the inner turmoil I found myself in as the days until my 29th birthday slipped away.
For some reason I felt that the guillotine that hung over my planned events would also come down on my neck the second I hit 30. With that looming over me I had no choice but to sit indoors and watch plans go down the drain. Ironically it was as I hit my 29th birthday that I realised that my worrying was, you guessed it, a load of bollocks. I woke up feeling like the same man I was the day before. I will do exactly the same next year no doubt when the now not-so-dreaded three-zero is upon me. The point of this paragraph? When you post something on the internet you have to follow through with it. So it is impossible for me now to worry about my impending thirties. If you take anything from this it should be also to not worry about getting older. It’s certainly better than some BS meme on Instagram that says something along the lines of, “If you come out of lockdown without a new skill or side hustle you didn’t lack time you lacked discipline.”
There is still no doubt in my mind that I have lost time to make up for. I just don’t have to do it all before I turn 30. While there have been plenty of high points in my twenties thus far there have been awful lows too, moments where I would cancel plans with friends making awful excuses rather than just fessing up that my head was all over the place. Missed opportunities. Stories that get told to this day and I could have been a part of them. It hurts. Not because I wasn’t there, because I could and should have been there. Now I’m in a position to make sure that doesn’t happen in future, without worrying about any ticking clocks. Which reminds me I need to get the battery changed in my watch. We started with comments about bat soup, it feels fitting to finish with some more animal based content. As the legendary philosopher Pitbull once proclaimed, “40 is the new 30.” I’m not even 30 yet. I may not be the scantily clad Latina that you were referring to but cheers anyway Mr Worldwide.