I was in Italy for Milan Fashion Week just days before the lockdown in Northern Italy began, but even then the severity of COVID-19 hadn’t registered with me yet. I was busy balancing my work for my A-levels back home in the UK and carrying out the various jobs that I had landed during the fashion week season. This was my first time modeling on the catwalks, and I was excited and grateful to be given this opportunity.
Even though, Lombardy reported a large number of cases right after I left Italy, back home in the UK there were barely any so everything still seemed pretty normal. Although there were temperature checks at the airport in Italy, there was no feeling that anything was really amiss. It hadn’t quite registered to me that I had been in a high risk area, but looking back, maybe I should have been a bit more worried.
In the week after this, I ended up traveling to Paris to walk for Loewe, Saint Laurent and I even flew from the UK to come back again later that week to walk for Valentino last minute. Still, although masks and hand gel were given out backstage, there was definitely no practice of social distancing and very few precautions were taken. We had no idea how bad it was going to get.
A few days after I got home, it became apparent that things were getting worse, and I received an email from the government telling me to stay at home because I was deemed ‘high-risk’ due to my Type 1 Diabetes. There was an incident in the school library where I watched a boy sneeze and then wipe his snot on the floor and at that moment I just thought that maybe I should be staying home. I didn’t realise that that would be my last day ever at school, but that’s what it turned out to be. As I sat outside in the sun with my friends, they helped me make the hard decision that staying home would be safer for me.
Because of this, I missed my last day of school and all the goodbyes that took place. Even worse, I had missed the days after the announcement that A- levels would be cancelled, and so did not have the chance to discuss what this meant for me, and what would happen. Everything was just so up in the air and no one truly knew what the future held. Luckily, I had achieved high enough grades that my predicted grades should be enough for me to make my offer to study History and German at Oxford University in the fall.
The fact that I began self-isolating earlier than the lockdown began also meant I missed my boyfriend’s birthday as well as our one year anniversary. Although it was sad I couldn't be with him to celebrate, he did drive to my house to pass me flowers and talk to me through the window.
Since lockdown has properly started, I’ve tried to keep a sense of productivity. To fill my days I’ve adopted some chickens, who have become like my children, and I’m even growing my own vegetables in my own vegetable patch. I cook dinner for my family most days, and try and keep busy by reading, doing jigsaw puzzles and calling my friends.
Our prom is still organised, although I do not see it actually taking place on the date we have it planned for. Perhaps it will be postponed to later in the summer, or maybe it will be cancelled. Honestly, who knows what will happen. One thing I know for sure though is that when this is all over, we will all get together and properly celebrate us moving onto the next stage in our lives: university.
Written by: Abi Brooke