Tuesday 17 March 2020

Covid-19 Diaries - Lockdown Day 3

To spend the lockdown in pyjamas or to dress up? 

That's the topic on my Mums Whatsapp Group on the morning of Day 3 of lockdown in Mallorca. One mum says she's going to wear a dress to celebrate the news that the hefty monthly payment for freelancers, (a fee you have to pay regardless of whether you've earned anything during the month), will almost certainly be suspended.

In Spain we're taking some comfort from being in the same sinking economic ship. Meanwhile in UK, the government approach is to recommend social isolation rather than impose it, thereby shifting the financial responsibility to each individual and business as if it were their own decision to shut down. Macron sounds more supportive in France, declaring suspensions of rents, mortgages, service charges and so on.

At 9 am, I'm in pyjamas not a dress, and I'm not thinking about the economy. I'm on the floor attacking a cardboard Amazon delivery box with a pair of scissors. What used to be rubbish has now become an invitation to be creative. I'm making a rudimentary farmhouse for my daughter Sol. I cut out windows, a door, make a table, individual plates for the Flamingo, Camel and Zebra, and put up a partition for the Polar Bear's toilet all in the time it takes my husband to have a shower.

Next, I try some yoga. I have been feeling the same anxiety I used to feel when I lived in London. It's like I've stopped in the middle of a sit-up. My stomach is taut and I can't let go. 

It's only Day 3 but there's a voice in my head saying I don't want to do this, that I can't do this. I want to shout it out loud: I THOUGHT I WAS MENTALLY RESILIENT BUT I'M NOT! I'M WEAK!

One of the mums tells us that they have visitors over who haven't been able to leave the island. That means there are five adults and two children under the age of 2 facing lockdown in a two-bedroom apartment. When my friend calls the German embassy to find out what they can do, they are told that, since they live on the island surely the guests can continue staying with them. The woman must imagine they are living in a luxury villa.

Her situation puts things into perspective. I am fine. It's all going to be fine. It's only Day 3 for god's sake. Before having a baby I would have welcomed two weeks at home to finish whatever novel I was writing. In fact I used to live like there was a corona virus outbreak, only leaving the house when there were no more lentils or tinned tuna left. But now, now that I am supposed to stay inside, I want to go out.

But I'm not going out. Not yet. We have supplies for the week. The thing is, at first I thought that I could just go to the supermarket each day and it would all be easy. But actually the point is there is a real risk each time you're in contact with other people and places, so it's not about getting around the system, it's about staying safe. Today, on our small island, there were 18 more positive cases confirmed. They have finally stopped international flights and reduced flights from the mainland to returning residents.

Eventually I'm able to focus on some work. My husband, Mr Calm, plays with Sol. My brother writes a beautiful story about the lockdown from the point of view of his new adopted puppy which brings me to tears. 

In the afternoon my husband tells me that the canals in Venice are becoming clearer and wildlife is returning. It gives me hope that something good can come out of this.

At night, I recite The Hungry Caterpillar to Sol from memory as I'm putting her to sleep. Do you know it? It's about a tiny, hungry caterpillar which eats every day for a whole week and then makes a cocoon around itself. After two weeks it emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

It makes me think, how perhaps, after two weeks with ourselves, we might emerge transformed too. We have been consuming and consuming and now we have to stop. 
Maybe in this time we will have life-changing thoughts. We might emerge more beautiful because we have come to appreciate the little things, the things that matter.

Thanks for reading. You can find me on my Facebook Author Page or on Instagram.  

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