Get ready everyone, it’s coming to you, if it hasn’t already. The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet (as William Gibson once said). It’ll happen quickly too. Last Thursday morning, we woke up to the news of the US travel ban and got the word that our friend wouldn’t be coming to Paris. By Thursday afternoon, I had cancelled our train to Paris and booked a different apartment in Montpellier. We moved Friday evening, sterilized everything and started getting provisions. More provisions Saturday morning, then we met up with friends for a river walk. Saturday night came the news that all non-essential services would be closed as of midnight. Now what is it, Tuesday?, and things are not just locked up, we’re in lockdown. This means no leaving the apartment, except for groceries and pharmacy. We have to carry a signed attestation of the reason for any excursion, which is essentially a permission slip that you sign yourself. We have company, Spain and Italy are in the same boat. Friends there have advised me what to expect, I’m doing the same for you. This isn’t a pity party, I’m fully aware of how lucky we are. We’re outside of the city center, in a quiet neighborhood. It lacks the charm of the center, but we have a spacious and comfortable apartment with a large balcony (!) overlooking a garden. Folks have asked me if the bakeries are still open. Yes of course, this is France! They remember all too well what happened the last time the people didn’t have bread.
The rules: no being out without a damn good reason. You must shop at your closest stores. There are limits to how many people are allowed in a store at one time, and while you wait in line for your turn you must respect a one meter distance. You are allowed out to walk your dog, should you be so lucky to have one, you are also allowed out for a bit of exercise provided it is brief and near your residence. My advice to you: start preparing now. Don’t think it can’t happen, think instead about how you’ll deal when it does. You probably have enough toilet paper already. You can rig a bidet you know! But do go across town to get that special ingredient, your favorite little something. Think about what you’ll need to spend hour upon hour, day upon day inside. How do you want to use this time? You could learn something, or watch a ton of netfix. I don’t judge. But if you want to learn something, do you have what you need? And where do you want to be, should you have that choice? Many people in Paris left for their second homes, which will only serve to spread the virus and overwhelm the small rural hospitals. Norway has banned people from sheltering anywhere but in their primary residence for just that reason.
My tragic misstep: we’re packed for winter. Winter in Spain, but still winter. I was planning to go shopping on Sunday and that was too late. I only have 2 pairs of pants and they’re both fairly heavy weight fabrics. On nice days here it’s hitting mid 70s. In a month, it’s going to be a minor crisis. But then it’s not like we’ll be going to the theater.
I will not hesitate to adopt this latest French fashion seen in Biarrtiz and hang out on the balcony in my pajamas. Desperate times call for desperate measures!
Mark has been reading La Peste (The Plague) by Camus. Coincidence? Or prescience? He brought it along months ago from Paris. Reading about how others have dealt with these sorts of things in the past, even in fiction, makes me realize how lucky we are that we’re not alone, even those who live alone. We have technology! We’ve lined up virtual parties, FaceTime and WhatsApp happy hours, apéros, and dinners. Gotta keep your peeps close, now more than ever, even at a distance.
We got out for one last river walk before the noon curfew before lockdown.
This says Live Joyfully. Enough said.
Could be worse. I hope it won’t.
Let me know how you’re faring and what’s happening in your communities. We’re all in the same proverbial boat. I hope yours isn’t a cruise ship.