Two weeks since the announcement of the state of emergency. I take the bins out sporting a very fine orange mask, fashioned for me by my lovely neighbour. Never in my life did I think I’d be wearing a mask out on the street like this. Especially an orange one. Especially while dropping off the rubbish.
From my place to the recycling bins is about two hundred metres. During that lengthy walk, my face turned up to the sky drinking it in, I see three people waiting outside (at a two metre distance naturally) the bakery, all wearing masks. A few cars pass by, every driver also wearing one. What is this alien world?
I find it quite hard to breathe wearing the mask actually. An unnerving sensation, especially when the virus itself often causes breathing problems. I keep pulling it down to take a huge breath through my nose, when I’m nowhere near anyone, wondering about the conflicting opinions on whether or not the virus is airborne. So many opinions. So many conflicting opinions, about every part of this. I just want to get home and breathe normally.
Saturday 28th March
Going through memory boxes and time slips away, from the present, which I’m trying to stay in, into the past. That’s still better than the immediate future, though, and I revel in the nostalgia for a while.
I find a postcard from my mum, the church spires of where I live nestling in the town surrounded by mountains, the sky beckoning, the warmth seeming to seep out from the cardboard. She visited this place before I did, and loves it, as she loves all of Spain. She was supposed to be arriving for a week’s holiday today.
Sunday 29th March
My dad tells me that the latest news in the UK is that this could last six months. This sends me reeling. I read later that they don’t necessarily mean total lockdown for that amount of time, but by that time I’ve convinced myself that we’re not getting out until September. Who knows, it could be true. And the lockdown in Spain is a lot stricter than the one in the UK, so far. Six months!
It’s a lesson in pacing yourself, perhaps. The first week or two were surreal, a sense of high drama in the air, a temporary feeling of bewilderment tied in with the tentative thought that surely this state of emergency is also very temporary. Now our sentence could be extended for an unimaginable amount of time; what to do with that information? Even if it that assessment turns out to be far from the mark, and we’re ‘out’ in a month or so, still nobody knows right now, nobody can reassure us either way. So – preparing for a long stretch of isolation, where life has changed, and days have new shapes. New patterns will have to form. Be formed. By us. I’m going to have to let myself off the uber-creativity hook (which is anyway not working right now, reeling as I am in a flaccid wilderness where concentration is impossible) and not beat myself up (too hard) if I don’t finish three albums, a novel, and seven artworks in the next fortnight. I just can’t do it. All my energy is spent on teaching music on t’internet, and what I have left is reserved for throwing balls for my cats, and phone calls, and some yogic Tibetan moves on most days. I might get into a new state soon, where (my own) lockdown pressure is off, and I decide to do nothing and not even try to create – and that’s usually when things start to flow. But now I’ve written that down, it’s almost certain they won’t. Ah.
Monday 30th March
Today I watch a video of a male nurse or carer dancing flamenco down the corridor of an elderly people’s home, dressed in blue scrubs and mask, and cry.
And read a post by a friend angrily wondering why the world hasn’t stopped and minute silences haven’t been observed for the 119,000 children who have died of starvation since the virus was first discovered, and wonder angrily too.
And see a foodie article on how to make ‘ginger, sweet potato and coconut milk stew with lentils and kale’ and salivate even though I just finished breakfast.
And listen to yet another remake of a famous song with new viral lyrics, and felt that that was enough now, we get it.
And looked at the cases and death statistics for each country, seeing Spain take third place on this terrible scoreboard after being in fourth position until now.
The days are flying. The days are merging. The days are filled with all the emotions, in different orders. Sadness, anger, hunger, impatience, fear. But also happiness sometimes, usually while speaking to someone or watching my moggies fly around, immune to what’s consuming us all. Acceptance of the situation occasionally rears its tired head, inspiration flashes from time to time. It’s all there, it’ll all keep being there, until this situation shifts somewhere else.
Tuesday 31st March
My cats are hanging out on the balcony this afternoon, watching the world not go by. They suddenly bolt inside, as a loud engine noise approaches. Strange anyway, as I live in a tiny cul-de-sac with (obviously) no through traffic, and the two neighbours who drive their cars down it to park are not driving right now. I run to see what’s happening, and see a tractor, the driver fully gasmasked, and hazmat suited and booted, right under my window, spraying who knows what all over the street. Whatever it was, it stank, and I slammed the windows shut as it disappears as quickly as it arrived. Just another normal sight in these weird days.
Wednesday 1st April
A couple of long thunder rolls, darkening skies, a sudden downpour of sleety rain attacking the roof and walls and a whirling wind that gets up out of nowhere. The church bells chiming long, as sirens howl and a few bangs are heard. A neighbour’s cat that seems to have been abandoned wails on my roof.
Today my house is a welcome shelter from the outside world.
Thursday 2nd April
I am strolling through the town where I live. A bar is open, all movement and lights and energy. People I recognise are laughing, chatting, shouting to others across the room, moving to the music. Across the road another bar is packed, and next to that a cafe has no free tables. Everything whirls, clatters, gleams. I don’t understand; this isn’t allowed, this can’t be happening. The feeling in the street is of celebration, of uncomplicated relaxation, of communal happiness, but I’m just confused, and worried that everyone is going to get fined, arrested, physically forced back home, any minute now.
I wake up.
Thanks for reading, take care, and see you this time next week for more isolation wibblings.