My wishes for this year are more laser-focused than usual. I want the same as everyone else: to see my family more; to hug friends; to move through life unencumbered by an awareness of every particle that lands on my skin; to squeeze once more through tight-packed crowds of sweaty, bleating strangers. It’s been a massive blow to my brand to realise that I – me! – miss large gatherings on wet days, or mediocre pints in dreary pubs, or gardens teeming with people shushing you for talking during Ireland football matches, even though talking during Ireland matches is the only way it is medically possible to get through Ireland matches.
In March, I joked that, when this all ends, I intend to french kiss every one of my friends for 45 minutes apiece. That seemed like a funny length for a snog, presuming an affection gap lasting, say, 12 weeks. How naive I was. After nine months, I now see I criminally underestimated my pangs. Each of my pals should put aside two business days and start buying Chapstick by the box.
But this is a new year! Optimism should prevail, and I should at least reflect with some thankfulness on the positives. We’re safe, well, happy and there is a vaccine on the way. I haven’t checked the roll-out schedule but, as one of the commonwealth’s finest purveyors of gently humorous lifestyle columns, I imagine I’m fairly high up the list for a dose. Just think of all the witty descriptions I could make of the day; the comical scrapes my son could get into in the plague tent; the self-deprecating, but ultimately quite sweet account I’d give of myself being broadly clueless in a relatable way. Dropping the syringe, coughing on doctors, that sort of thing.
In the absence of an immediate cure, I can focus on one other positive. The fact that, for all our regrets over this weird, wasted, wonky year, my son hasn’t ‘missed’ much. I mean this in the sense that he doesn’t have much to compare it to, since the majority of his lived memory has taken place in a Covid-adjacent time. If I think about this for too long, even that becomes worrying. Now, with his soft baby brain slowly hardening in these plague years, will he develop a score of neuroses and tics? Will he wash his hands 18 times a day well into adulthood? Will he be pathologically obsessed with banana bread? Will he, horror of horrors, enjoy video-conferencing? I joke, but he’s now so accustomed to seeing his auntie Aoife via FaceTime, that the last time he met her in the flesh, he grabbed his mum’s phone as if he was checking how she’d escaped.
For the time being, we can’t dwell on any of those unknowns; it’s sufficient to know that he’s adaptable and doesn’t seem as bothered by any of this as we are, so long may that continue. Just not too much longer, I guess. I don’t think I could take all the kissing.
Follow Séamas on Twitter @shockproofbeats