The rush that has sustained me through lockdown

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As I sat down to write this column, I received some fine news. My phone pinged with a notification that my package is arriving soon. Today is going to be a package day! A package day is an excellent day!

Now, I’m not exactly sure which package is on its way. I am currently waiting on a new pair of running shoes, a thrifted T-shirt I found on Depop, a thrifted tracksuit top I found on eBay, and a cheap belt I found on Etsy to hold up my … well … I’ll get to that in a minute.

Though I do not consider myself a profligate person, my PayPal account has definitely been more animated of late.Credit:iStock

Of course, I could click on the tracking notification and use that to figure out which package is arriving, but I won’t because that would ruin the fun. Part of the joy of packages is the surprise element. What item will I discover inside? Will it match the description of the item on the website? Will it match the description of the item in my imagination?

Collecting packages is my new – and very fulfilling – hobby. Now, a less charitable person might call this new hobby “shopping”, but this is reductive and unfair. Shopping is when you go to a shop and look around and see something you like and exchange it for money. I do none of this. I sit at home and press buttons and after a few days (or a few weeks, if the buttons direct me to an overseas website) a package magically appears in my letterbox.

This is not shopping. This is sending an item on an exciting journey through the postal service to its new home. And it is cultivating little moments of joy throughout the very mundane week, so really, it’s a win for all.

My love of parcels began innocently enough, with supermarket deliveries during lockdown. These weren’t packages, per se: they were brown paper bags filled with food and groceries. But there was something about the delivery experience that elevated my bread, milk and washing powder into something much greater. Even though I’d ordered the items myself, opening the bags was thrilling.

Oh! I forgot I ordered Weet-Bix! Look! What a cute little can of beans. Ah, these potatoes are marvellous!

So when I ran out of face cream, I didn’t drive to the chemist. (Better not risk COVID-19, I muttered, convincing no one but the cat.)

I logged on to a website and ordered the cream, along with nail polish, hand cream, and hair mousse for good measure. And when my box of goodies arrived – with free samples, no less! – it was like receiving a gift from myself. And I know what I like, so I’m very good at giving.

From then on, when I needed an item, I ordered it online. And, sometimes, when I didn’t need an item, I ordered that online, too. I ordered cosmetics, running shoes, books, coffee, slime, a T-shirt and some sunglasses, and though at least one of those items was for my daughter, the pleasure of unwrapping was all mine.

Now, there are tricks to ordering stuff online. For one thing, you need to spend enough so that you qualify for free shipping.

“If we buy an extra $30 worth of slime,” I explained to my daughter, “we won’t have to pay the delivery fee!”

“But the fee is only eight dollars!” she said.

“You just don’t get it,” I sighed.

It is also important to be scrupulous about the sizing of products. I ordered what I thought was a regular packet of rice, and when it arrived, it was 10 kilos and the size of a small child. I ordered three blocks of wax for my daughter’s candle-making project, and they were the size of postage stamps. Oh! And I ordered thrifted jeans which were supposedly my size, and they were two sizes too big.

Still, what I have lost in tiny wax cubes I have gained in joy (and, er, rice). Opening the packages is always exhilarating, even if the aftermath is a little bit disappointing. And the gaping jeans meant I could buy a belt on Etsy, which means another package is on its way, and I’m supporting small business in the process!

Though I do not consider myself a profligate person – I scour the net for bargains, and thrift whenever possible – my PayPal account has definitely been more animated of late. The lure of the package is just too great.

Every time I run to the mailbox and see a parcel wedged inside, I feel a jolt of adrenalin. Every unwrapping is a tiny moment of delight. It is the rush that sustained me through lockdown.

As we emerge, blinking, into a brave new world, I may never go into a physical store ever again. Though the pandemic has been rough, it has taught me one valuable lesson: everything is better when it’s wrapped up.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale October 24. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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