If there is anything that this corona virus crisis brought, it was actually to get people closer together.
In these times of social distancing it may seem a contradiction what I just said but it is not. When things were “normal” we were all going about our lives. Rushing from one place to the other and probably feeling a day should actually have 48 hours instead of the usual 24. At least I was.
How much time did we actually have left for our family and friends? I did my best of course but having spent my life abroad moving from country to country every 4 years or so, the time I get to see my family and friends back home in Portugal is very short. If I think about the friends around the world I already left behind, I even get less time to contact them as often as I should.
The person I feel I got even closer during all this was, without a doubt, my daughter. The first three and a half years of her life were spent with me at home. I wanted to give her and me time to know each other before her life would have to change, starting school, learning new rules.
Since then most of her time has been spent in school. I get her usually mid-afternoon and then with homework, little time is left before dinner and bedtime.
But now things have changed, we are together the whole day and we have been bonding in a special way. I feel I lost so much before. There was a lot missing about who my daughter is becoming now at 10 years old. We fell in a new routine. School at a distance, homework, time to enjoy each other’s company and do activities like strolling in the park or exercising together is our new reality. We talk so much, about our plans for the future, and our dreams.
But we also talk about the past and when she was little. There are many questions I answer happily. I always feel sorry I did not ask enough questions to my parents who are both gone now. So much I still wanted to know!
People say there will be a lot of divorces when this is all over and it may be true of course. It is not easy living in a closed environment for so long when you were not used to do so before. But today I want to see things in a different perspective.
Waking in the city and seeing couples kissing, embracing and friends enjoying each other company touched me. I want to believe that some have found a way to get even closer and realise what is important.
Social media has made it easier for us to stay in touch which is wonderful. I have now been able to write and receive messages from friends with whom I didn’t have as much contact before. It is nice to see how it feels when I can just pick up where we were left before and hear about what they’ve been up to.
These contacts have also brought me memories of the good times we have passed together in far away lands. Lands that at some point I called home. My history on this planet so far is made of parts lived in different places. A bit like puzzle pieces that fit together in an odd but wonderful way. Once it is time to say goodbye, I take with me the memories of the place and the real friends. These I’m hoping will always be a constant no matter where I will end up.
Social media connects but can never substitute the real thing, human contact. And that is getting better as Spring is finally here. In Vienna we have been blessed with warm, sunny days and nature in full bloom.
Museums are still closed but there is hope their doors will open in the coming weeks.
But shops will reopen on Saturday although there is still the imposition of wearing a mask inside and the entrance is limited to a few people each time. Shopping streets are looking more crowded now, window shopping and enjoying ice creams being the favourite activities until the grand opening. And of course many are waiting to enjoy their favorite restaurant again.
In the meantime here is what I’ve been up to this week:
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
I just finished it and it made such an impression on me that I’m still thinking about it. Ever since I read the raving reviews, I wanted to get it. This a retelling of the story of Jesus but from a female perspective. She wanted to give a voice to the women who may or not have been part of his life but for the most part have been silenced.
I don’t want to tell you any more but I can tell you it is beautifully written and that I loved it. It will be for sure one of my favourite books of 2020.
But in case you want to know more before you read it or even after, here is an online interview with Sue Monk Kidd about the Book of Longings.
Apeirogon by Column McCann
This is the novel I’m reading now also in Kindle format. Geography remains the same, but time moves forward to our times. It is the unlikely friendship between two fathers, one Palestian and one Israeli who have both lost their daughters. The novel is based on a true story that the author heard about when he travelled to Israel. He later met both fathers and with their approval wrote their story as a novel.
So far I’m really enjoying it but I will keep you posted.
I’m still waiting for others to arrive, but this week I received this remarkable book from the 1940s where Helen Levitt portrayed the streets of New York. More than technique, her photos are like poetry and show every day life in the city.
This week I watched very little TV as I chose to read more. But music always makes a good companion.
Sounds while I was reading the Book of Longing: Israeli singer, songwriter and activist Noa. I always liked the beautiful sound of one of her earlier albums entitled Achinoam Nini & the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.
This week besides remaining safe and healthy, remember those who are important to you and reach out to them.
And get some sun in your face, breathe!