Isolation Around the World: Melbourne

I've been so focused on what's happening around the world, that I forgot to find out how everyone is going in my home town, Melbourne.  As a city, we love hidden bars and boutique restaurants, festivals and football, coffee and cocktails.  Obviously, like the rest of the globe, things are a little different in Melbourne at the moment, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing...

Name:  Fam Charko
Location:  Melbourne, Australia
Workplace:  Marine Biologist at the Port Phillip EcoCentre
Socials:  @famcharko
How I met Fam:  Fam and I volunteered together for many years at 3CR community Radio on a marine focused show called Out of the Blue


ISOLATION CONDITIONS:  Level 3 restrictions.  We’re allowed to go outside to exercise but not with more than two people and only with physical distancing applied.  Unless you need to for work or to do shopping, travelling is not allowed and people are urged to stay at home.  You can even get a fine if you’re on the road for reasons other than work or necessity.

Number of people in isolation with you:  Officially one, which is my housemate. But people are allowed to visit their partners if they don’t live in the same house, so I spend time at my boyfriend’s place too.
Do you have any pets keeping you company?  My Australian Shepherd, Loki, who is the best boy in the world

Fam - Loki2

How many rolls of toilet paper do you currently have?  Probably about 25 - not because I’m a quarantine-hoarder, but because we get them delivered in bulk packs of 48 rolls.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how well stocked is your alcohol cabinet?  9 - I have never spent as much money on alcohol as I have in quarantine.  I’m not sorry though, as I now make a damn good Quarantoni (Negroni).

Fam - Cocktails2

Name one thing in your kitchen cupboard that you know you won’t eat but is there for emergencies:  Polenta - it’s been there for over 3 years and I haven’t touched it.
What are you binge watching/listening to/reading at the moment?  I’m binge-listening Taylor Swift’s Reputation album, and have been since January. Don’t judge me.
Which Hollywood star would play you in a movie version of your isolation story?  Anne Hathaway, in a movie called "Love in the Time of Corona" (read on to learn why...)
Who are you #IStayHomeFor?  For the good of humanity

What is the strangest thing you have found in your apartment during isolation?  A cockroach had taken up residence in my hiking boot, because I haven’t been able to go out for hikes.

Weirdest isolation meal you’ve eaten so far?  No weird stuff, really.  The shops are still open so I haven’t lacked anything.  I did eat olive bread with peanut butter, but that was because I was hungover after a wine-night on Zoom with friends and I couldn’t be bothered making a proper breakfast.

Random skill you would like to learn while in isolation?  How to make very good versions of my favourite cocktails: Gin & Tonic, Negroni and Old Fashioned.  Hence my very well-stocked liquor cabinet and way too much money spent on booze.  I have the Gin & Isotonic and Quarantoni down so far.

Any heart-warming isolation stories you would like to share?  I started a new relationship in lockdown.  We met on a dating app only a few weeks before it happened.  Things between us moved pretty quickly straight off the bat, and we decided to commit right before the restrictions came in.  It is the weirdest thing.  I went from having a normal life with a busy social and dating life and hobbies, to having all that fall away and just spending all my time with just this one person who I hardly know.  This is because I’m not allowed to visit friends or do my particular hobbies (horse riding and surfing) and have to work from home, but people are still allowed to visit their partners.  It has been amazing though.  It’s like we are in this weird alternate reality, where normal life has been paused and it’s just me and him getting to know each other very quickly and thoroughly, in a fast-tracked version of the depth that comes into a relationship with time.  There is no context of friends, family or weekend activities.  None of the usual distractions.  I did have one minor meltdown over Easter, when we were in the supermarket in our tracksuit pants and hoodies, doing some mundane grocery shopping together after having worked in the garden at his place all day.  All of a sudden, as he was checking the shopping list, everything inside me rebelled. “I’m not ready for this!” I cried out in the middle of aisle 3, between the breakfast cereals and the pancake mix, “I’m supposed to go on cute dates with you and dress up all nice and feel nervous before seeing you and then texting my friends afterward telling them how fun our date was!  I’m not ready to shop for dishwashing liquid at the supermarket in my slippers, like I’ve already been with you for 5 years!”  I felt so cheated by being forced to skip the exciting dating-phase.  But then he kissed me and made me Portuguese tarts from scratch, and we picked the ripe figs from his garden, and I felt like the luckiest person in the world for having met him just before lockdown.  We’ve been in lockdown for 5 weeks now and very much in love.

Fam - BF2

Best isolation/social distancing meme you’ve seen?  There are so many. This period is the golden era for memes. I am glued to Instagram and TikTok every day, laughing my butt off.

Apart from leaving the house, what is the biggest thing you miss right now?  Surfing and spending time with horses.  Both these things sustain my mental and emotional health greatly.  I also miss face-to-face time with my colleagues.  For a team-player and total extrovert like me, working from home alone is very hard.  I miss the banter in the office.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when isolation comes to an end?  Drive to the ocean and probably cry when I see her.  Then I’m going for a surf and stay in until my skin turns all wrinkly and my eyes are red from the saltwater.

What would you like to see as the “new normal” once this is all over?  The new-found appreciation people seem to have for the green spaces around them.  I’ve never seen it as busy in parks and on walking paths along the rivers and creeks of Melbourne as right now.  I hope people will retain the understanding of how essential it is to protect these places for their health and wellbeing.

2 thoughts on “Isolation Around the World: Melbourne”

  1. Fam really enjoyed reading your isolation story. Let’s hope you’re back in the ocean soon and back with your horses.

    1. That is a lovely message Margaret! Thank you. As of an hour ago, some of the government restrictions have lifted and surfing and horses are allowed again! It will be interesting to see where my relationship will go now our usual lives of hobbies, friends and the rest of the world will be added into the mix.

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