Elena and Mimi

Elena Bowes in conversation with
Mimi Partridge-Hicks

Below are snippets of a conversation I have had with a dear old friend of mine named Mimi Partridge-Hicks. We’ve known each other since high school, both American expats living in London. Mimi is divorced, has three kids and is comfortably off so she doesn’t have to work. She knows she’s one of the lucky ones. From her viewpoint, she sees a few positives in Covid, one being no more FOMO.

Note 1: March-May

If the lockdown suddenly got lifted, would you feel this sudden pressure to organize things, let’s get tickets, let’s see one another. I’ve had FOMO. I don’t want that again. Will we have evolved?

It’s a bit like being reborn. I have felt a huge relief – I put a lot of pressure on myself to be busy – like I have to go see that exhibit, I have to go see that play. For me, especially probably because I’m single, that pressure to always make plans. It’s nice not making plans.

I read that the V&A is opening and people can physically go see its show on handbags. And I thought, wait, OMG  I don’t want to feel that pressure – to get tickets, to hear my friends ask – have you seen it, were you one of the first people to go, can you talk about it, what do you think it means? I really love not having that pressure, knowing that everyone’s at home. I did a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle this morning, a massive jigsaw. I’m so proud of it.

Note 2: May-July

I don’t feel at all anxious about the lockdown. I could continue living like this. I like how it feels, how my priorities are organized. You know how some religions take a chunk of time to reflect, like Muslims during Ramadan. I think that’s what lockdown has been for me. I have cleaned up my house literally and figuratively. I got rid of things that didn’t serve me anymore. That’s a very healthy and cathartic thing. And I don’t feel like there’s time or room or space in our normal lifestyles to do that. I really welcome that. I don’t want to go back to that busy life I led.

I think it would be nice to have lockdown for a month every year. Maybe I’ll just set it up in my life. I’ll let my friends know that I’m on lockdown this month, allow myself to look out the window and daydream.

Pre-lockdown I would have thought that I was a loser if I’d watched a movie on a rainy Monday afternoon. Believe me there were plenty of times I’ve wanted to do that, but I hadn’t let myself.  I’d think, ‘Boy things must be really bad if you’re watching a movie by yourself.’ And yet, that would have been ok in the lockdown, or even nicer, watching a movie with my son, Griffin.

There is a serenity. We’re all quite peaceful now. I’m not even following the news about Covid. And yet that’s the event that got us into this. It’s kind of moved to the background and what we’ve learned about ourselves is in the foreground. I think it’s all quite healthy.

Note 3: July-August

I’ve been feeling really low. I feel like we’ve all been living through this thing, but we haven’t yet processed it.  I’m back home in London, my kids have gone back to school. Reality has hit. I feel apprehensive. I don’t feel hopeful about anything right now. I could start to feel untethered if we have another lockdown. I am single. I would go through this next lockdown on my own. I feel this next lockdown would be very different from the last one – Griffin would stay at boarding school, Max at university.

It’s more the quietness of my home now, the quietness of autumn with winter looming.

I decided to go see an exhibit with a friend. I looked online  and there were no slots available for three days. Finally, we found a spot at the Hayward Gallery to see a show called “Among the Trees’. We used to be able to just walk in. When we went, I asked the museum employee what the next exhibit will be. She looked at me and said, “We’re shutting down. All of Southbank. Almost everyone, over 400 employees have been fired.” I felt so sorry for her, for me, for everyone. In the exhibit, I watched a video of a tree. I wanted to stay in that room, it was very womb-like. But I wanted to be in the real there, not the video there.

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