The Bright Side

I’m aware I went dark yesterday. It happens in a Pandemic such as this. You have days like that when trapped inside. I knew it was going to be a dark day when I started reading articles on how newly incarcerated inmates deal with the first few weeks of confinement. Lets just say its not bedtime reading.

Halfway through the day, I knew I had to do something desperate. And fashioning a shiv or making bathtub gin in the toilet wasn’t an option. I decided to go for a jog. I won’t say a ‘run’ because el Comaparimento isn’t set up for that. Like most Spanish dwellings it lacks that American open plan layout. After I entered the kitchen and made the turn at the doors to the utility porch for the 3rd time Jeff asked me ‘What are you doing?’ I couldn’t believe he didn’t understand I was blowing off steam.

On my jaunt I discovered something. We have a spare bedroom. This is Emilie’s room when she’s here, but when she’s not it’s filled with all kinds of things that we can’t be bothered to take down to Espacio Creativo. We were always going to do it the next time. I keep my fancy Food Stroller in there. So as I was jogging by I stopped and peeked inside. Hmmm.

Jeff has all his computers, servers and his hobby tables in the office. But I have no place other than my 1200 square feet of Espacio Creativo – and I can’t go there now. So after my extensive half marathon in the apartment, and a shower, I made my way down to the East Wing and decided to increase my personal space significantly. I tidied up a bit – organizing what had been tossed in there willy-nilly, and I discovered that it was kind of nice to have a place of my own in the apartment. Then Jeff made a run for it, hazmatted up, of course, encountering no one on the street, avoiding the patrolling police on motorcycles and on foot, and brought back the TV and my painting supplies from the space in two trips, 8 long blocks away. So now I have a quiet place to write, paint, read and watch a show of my choice – if I want to get away.

And just in time, too. Yesterday, our Prime Minister announced that restriction will get, well, even more strict starting tomorrow. Only essential workers will be allowed out. Yes, you can go to the grocery store or farmacia or walk your dog, but if you are not an essential worker (medical, police, grocery store, garbage man) you will not be allowed on the metro, bus or car or just sauntering down the street without the requisite grocery trolley as a magic shield from a police inquiry, and stop and frisk. Before this, apparently, some people still went to their jobs. I can’t imagine what that could be since there isn’t a business around us that is open. They expect traffic and mass transit ridership will go to near zero.

Now that I have this quiet space, I hear the sounds of confinement. Yes, there is the coughing, all around us. Outside on the balconies and through the walls. It seems all of Valencia is coughing day and night now. And crying, there is crying too. Not just babies – but adults. We don’t know why but we can guess. And there is also the sound of singing. Opera and the like – on a daily basis. Our neighbor sings on his balcony with abandon. The building across the way played children’s music at full tilt yesterday and small kids came out on their balconies with their parents to sing along, clap to the music and do the movements they learned in school. We went out and watched and it made us smile. But the best sound I heard came from within our apartment.

Jeff, being Jeff, has found more ways to learn something new, which helps us both stay positive. He spent last night playing a PS Pro online game in the living room virtually with a friend back in Portland in the US. And from what I could tell – all the way from my new indoor she-shed in the East Wing – Jeff had a great time. I heard him laugh – really belly laugh – for the first time in weeks. And it was such a wonderful sound it made me stop what I was doing just to listen. He was happy. We need more happy around here.

It’s not all darkness in Spain. There are moments of bright light. Yes, we do our clapping at 8 pm every night, that everyone around the world has seen on video. But it’s the small things. When notes are slipped under our door from neighbors telling us they are here for us and to tell them if we need anything. And drawings from their kids. Smiles and waves from people we have never met while we both hang our laundry on the line. The best moments are the small moments. Perhaps the ones that went unnoticed before but means so much now. Maybe that’s where the blessings of a pandemic lay. We needed this time to show us that they were there all along.

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