I go for my late afternoon walk. I stand over the beach and look at the sea, inhaling its smell. It’s not too strong, here, as in other places by the sea, but it’s unmistakeable. I just stay there, filling myself with so many sensations – the light blue of the sky, the still bright light of the sun, already low on the horizon but still warm; the sea breeze on my face and my hair. The sensation of being alone but not lonely; of being utterly alive.
My “suspended life”
I must admit I have made the most of this “suspended life” – I still am. The first two weeks in Lisbon were terrible, I felt scared, very lonely, full of anxiety about the present and the future. Then I came here to my place by the sea; I began relaxing, spending time with the boys, going for long walks, looking at the sea from my window whenever I feel like it and, most of all, being thankful each day that both I and the people I love are safe and well. Gratitude is something that opens your mind, so that you may “count your blessings”, as Granny said when I complained about something. Dear, wise Granny, little did she know how much I would remember her and her words.
I have been busy. Working three days a week, I make the most of the others to write. I also have to cook, mostly when the boys come for dinner. Last Saturday, however, they both came with Afonso’s girlfriend who is staying with him for a few days (having been separated for more than a month) and Afonso cooked some hamburgers – a specialty of his. Before dinner I suggested a drink and discovered a bottle of a special midsummer edition of Hendrick’s gin that tasted like Heaven; Pedro – now an expert in cocktails as he had the proper subject at university – made us all gin tonic and we toasted to the future and to a world free of coronavirus.
On Saturday a friend of mine came for lunch and then we went for a long walk to a more distant beach. What a glorious day it was! My friend is going through a tough period with a very complicated love story and I have tried to support him as much as I can. In the end, that’s what friends are for.
Today I was happy to receive an email from my Italian friend, much more optimistic, saying Italy will begin the comeback on May 4. Our Prime Minister has established the same date, for a – as he says – very gradual comeback. The situation will be closely monitored every week and new measures will be taken according to how things evolve. There will be strict rules as to how to “get out” and the mask and disinfectant business is a highly promising one.
In Portugal the feeling is of moderate optimism. The purpose of confinement has been achieved – to slow down cases so that the National Health Service would not collapse. It hasn’t, although there are many voices saying things are far from perfect. Still, it has responded. The largest Portuguese Health insurer has declared they will cover their Client’s hospitalization expenses in private hospitals, even if pandemics are very clearly excluded from insurance contracts, so this will also be a relevant contribution. Many people are already being tested as to their immunity and more will follow. As of today, we have a total of 24.027 cases, 1357 recovered, and 928 deaths. The great question is: what will happen when we start leaving our homes? I do hope the Portuguese will continue to reveal their civility, and comply with all the rules, so that we may enjoy a bit, just a bit of the coming summer. We all know this summer will be a different one, but even so.
Europe has supposedly reached the peak and is the curve is now on a descending phase. I must say I hear very little news; I try to keep myself informed but you cannot stay tuned all the time or you’ll go mad. So maybe there are details I won’t give you, but the news will. My only purpose with this diary is to share with you my experience, the story of one life during the coronavirus pandemic. I’m sure it’s not too special, not too exciting, not too scary nor too dramatic (thank God!) but it’s mine, and I’ve tried to put down to words what I have been going through.
As I said before, this “suspended life” phase will be unforgettable. Because it will, for us all, but, in my case it has allowed me to dive deeper into a voyage of self-discovery I had already started, now with more intensity because, when you are alone and there is quietness around you, it becomes so much easier to talk to yourself. And to God.