One Year On

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the State of Alarm in Spain. Last year, the week leading up to it was filled with ever growing warning signs that began to skyrocket. We went from a huge M-8 gathering for International Women’s Day, to the entire country being locked in their homes in less than 7 days. Whiplash doesn’t cover how people reacted.

I remember the city sirens going off and the army trucks rolling down the street as troops were deployed to enforce the measures that were announced. Their vehicles were also fitted with loud speakers announcing what was coming to anyone who somehow had missed the news that was spreading on normal channels and social media. Grocery stores were ransacked as we laid in two weeks of supplies until we learned we could go out for food. So much uncertainty. None of us had ever been through anything like it before. The rules were strict. We were all very afraid. And we should have been.

So much has happened in that year. I don’t believe anyone should ever again stare incredulously at a person or situation, no matter how outlandish or unprecedented, and scoff at its impossibility. That’s what the last year has taught us all. Everything is possible. Anything can happen. And, whether we like it or not, there is little we can do about it. But, to me, this is good news. Things that ‘just happen’ aren’t always negative. Sometimes they’re amazing. Sometimes they’re life changingly good. All this means the possibilities are endless. We just need to see them and seize them.

This year, I learned to appreciate my body. It’s limitations, but also it’s strength. This body of mine is pretty determined and it can bounce back. Even though I’m getting older. It has surprised me. I told Jeff yesterday that I feel the best I have in a year. Not just a little better. Almost normal. Sure, not every day. But a year of this taught me balance. That getting back up requires rest – as well as rehab. Sometimes, the hard work is no work at all. That’s a lesson I’m happy to say I now understand.

Walking home from my Dr. appointment this morning, I decided to treat myself. Last Friday, I got new hair. So, it’s time to freshen up the cosmetics. Especially eye makeup. The only facial feature visible above my FFP2. A requisite visit to the MAC counter at El Corte Ingles and I have a new spring palate. The store was deserted, but the cafes walking home were packed with the maskless. Sitting together and drinking morning coffee. We couldn’t have imagined doing this a year ago when every shop and café was shuttered by decree. Lets hope, as the vaccine rolls out we will be able to do more of these simple things without fear.

A year ago, Pedro Sanchez, our Prime Minister, was the crucible for all the country’s anger. They accused him of gross negligence, and then overreach. The premiers of each of the autonomous regions were anxious to get control back when the SofA ended in June. They swore they could do better than Mr. Sanchez in managing the virus in their own territories. But in retrospect, he did exactly what needed to be done. The regions have, in many cases, folded to whatever political forces are at play locally. They’ve all tried, with varying degrees of success, to lift restrictions and leaned on the populous to ‘do the right thing’, while the beaches have filled up and dance clubs in summer were even allowed to reopen, but without alcohol. They might blame the PM for the first wave and the aftermath, but they can’t blame him for the second or third. And the fourth wave? It’s on all of us.

The biggest thing the virus taught me is to live in the moment. Right now. And right now, I feel really good. Like pre-pandemic good. The consultant at the MAC countered showed me their new lip colours as she was bagging up my brow gel and a new pearly eye palette. I just laughed. The irony of the metaphor for the past year isn’t lost on me. But I draw the line at literally putting lipstick on a pig of a year. I did promise her to be back after I’ve been vaccinated and the masks are gone. A new lipstick seems like the perfect post-pandemic purchase. When communication and personal expression becomes less of a blunt instrument. When we can smile at each other again. Express ourselves without words.

It seems strange to feel celebratory today for such a terrible milestone. But I guess what I’m really celebrating is survival. And if you’re reading this, you’re in the same club and should celebrate it, too. It’s like we’re all that guy at the end of the movie ‘War Games’. When they decide that the computer is just simulating the launch of Russian weapons. We’re all the guy at the Air Force base in Alaska, who decides not to launch a retaliatory strike even though the screens show them getting blown up. ‘Declaring ‘We’re still here!’

Yes, it’s been a difficult year. We’ve lost so many. And for some of us, our lives, and our bodies, might never be the same. But for now, we are still here, just waiting for the day when picking out a new lipstick colour might be the toughest decision we have to make.

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