Thursday 9 April 2020

Covid-19 Diaries - Lockdown Day 26 - Be bold

This is a time to be bold.

Not bold so you can break the rules of lockdown. I heard that in Greater Manchester, in the UK, police have had to break up over 500 parties. Lockdown isn't a punishment. It's in place to protect you and your loved ones. Do you want to be responsible for killing your grandfather?

No. By bold, I mean it's a time to step outside of your bubble, not your house.

Are your neighbours okay?

My friend, who lives in a miniscule apartment in Palma, waves to the old man who walks around the rooftop on his zimmer frame every day. He waves back. Human connection. I'm sure it brings a moment of comfort to both of them as they go about reinventing their daily routine.

I'm saying wave at the neighbours you would never have waved at before. Perhaps you'll become good friend after all this.

Open those windows and wave!

I saw a post on social media in which an elderly resident in an apartment block had left a note on her door which said: if anyone is going out, can they bring me back three bottles of milk? The next photo was of three bottles of milk on her doorstep. Okay, between you and me three bottles does seem a lot, but  the point is you have to be bold to ask for help and bold to answer the call.

There are only three occupied flats in our block. The rest have chosen to stay in their native countries or with friends in rural properties. While we chat regularly to the Aussie neighbour below us, we've barely seen our other middle-aged Spanish neighbour. In the five years we've lived here there's only been small talk between us. Still, we have each other's number and we have taken to asking each other if we need anything when we are about to go on a rare trip to the supermarket.

Last week we asked him for potatoes. He dropped off a sack and today I went to his door to pay him. Now I've been assuming all this time he's wanted to keep himself to himself. He's a really outdoorsy type. We know because we've seen his trainers and ski boots drying on the balcony. I thought he was the self-sufficient sort who doesn't need anyone else.

After our chat on the doorstep I realised I might have been wrong about a few things
Evidently he had been reading a lot of news, was feeling restless, and on day 26, was not relishing the thought of continuing at home, alone, and uncertain of how much longer the situation was going to continue.

I admit, as a mother of a toddler, I've felt pretty judgmental of people professing to be bored. BORED? What a luxury! But perhaps I've been too harsh. Our days are so busy with our daughter, and I'm still writing for the magazine, so neither me nor my husband have barely had time to look at the headlines. We don't have to time to worry or speculate. I had to google what day of lockdown it was today because I've lost track. We've adapted to our new life.

But today, after talking to my neighbour, I realised social distancing doesn't mean hiding away and forgetting everyone else in society. On the contrary it means checking in on everyone. After I spoke to our quiet neighbour we sent him a message to tell him that we could always have a drink from one balcony to the other. He replied instantly. He said that would be very nice. Perhaps we'll finally get to know each other. Perhaps we'll become good friends. Or perhaps we'll just be there for each other when it mattered.

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