Love in the time of Coronavirus
He’s leaving the city and heading for the highway to the North. He brings some of the files he’s working on with him, just in case the police make him stop and ask why he is travelling. He will say it’s for his work but it’s not. He’s travelling for love; he’ knows it’s crazy, with the quarantine and all, but he can’t help it. He has to see her, to have her in his arms, to smell her scent, if only for a few hours. He’ll gladly drive 600 kilometres there and back, risking police controls. A man as deeply, passionately, desperately in love as he is won’t be stopped.
It has all been so difficult from the beginning. He had his life, she had hers; he put an end to his marriage but for her it was more difficult – even with children as young adults, a mother’s heart is never free. She left home and her husband, but the fact that her children, studying away from home during the week, returned there every weekend, to be with their father, and she was not there to welcome them, to make sure they were properly fed, and pampered, killed her. Even if she was with the man she loved, deeply, passionately, desperately.
At first it was Christmas time and she could not leave home during the festive season. Her children would never understand. One obstacle showed up after another. She knew he was lonely, desperate for her to make a final decision. Which she found it almost impossible to make. She was torn. Even so, love and passion were stronger, and she finally explained to her children she was leaving their father, and their home. She was not leaving them, and she would go and see them during the week, and they began to accept the idea. The rest of the time she spent in her old apartment in a city by the sea, not far from where her children were, and her lover would join her there and they would finally be together, to begin a new life.
She could not bring herself, however, to tell her children about the new man in her life. Let time pass, she thought; they will understand better then, when some time has passed, and they won’t link him with my leaving their father. Or so she hoped.
And the two lovers were happy, because everything seemed to be sorting itself out; finally, they woke up every morning and realized their dream had turned into reality.
And then, like a dark, menacing shadow, came the pandemic. When the State of Emergency was declared, she knew she must be with her children, who in the meantime had returned to the family home to be with their father. What if anything happened to them and she was away, she would never forgive herself! Besides, they did not understand how could she possibly want to face quarantine alone, while she could not possibly explain she wasn’t.
Once again, her heart broken in half, she said goodbye to her lover and went back to the house where her children awaited her; where the man who is still her husband hopes for a reconciliation. His heart broken into tiny pieces, her lover returned to Lisbon, to his huge, smart but empty apartment, to wait. Wait for the day when this double nightmare ends and they can go back to each other’s arms; waiting for the possibility of a brief encounter, that, like today, has him driving his car at all speed for the sake of holding her in his arms, even if for the briefest of moments, until she has to return to her family again.
Such is love. It takes you to the heights of happiness and soon after to the depths of despair. After so many hardships, when they thought they could finally be together, another obstacle showed up in their way. They have no idea how long it will take, or when they will be able to live their dream together again. For the time being, there’s not much they can do but endure the nightmare and pray it will pass.
He’s driving back now, after a few hours of bliss, that passed only too fast. As he held her one last time, the uncertainty of it all felt like a goodbye. He turns his attention to the road, puts on some music, and feels a tear roll slowly down his face.
Yes, my friends, men cry for love too.