Dark days8 December, 2020
Lavinia, Tuesday, December 8, 2020
A candle burns constantly in the house, rather a large candle. Not for fun this time. Even though I love to light a candle and enjoy the atmosphere that radiates, this time it has a higher purpose. Call it superstition if necessary – whatever it may be – but for me it is a way of feeling connected and closeness with a number of people who are very dear to me and who are having a terribly difficult time at the moment.
Either because of medical problems, or because of an imminent goodbye, or because of psychological suffering. It seems as if everything comes together, as if the coldest and darkest days call for this. The unusually chilly and cold weather for this region, 10 degrees Celsius, I know, I am not complaining – and yet it feels icy cold- which only adds to this. The wind is howling around the house and it feels unsafe. For the first time since our stay here, we have been living in the house for several days now. The fireplace burns comfortably all day long, and the sun shines in and gives its pleasant warmth through the windows. Fortunately, it is not the cold and gloom of Belgium..
Moreover, thanks to enemy covid we also had to cancel our trip to Belgium. It was not an easy choice. Certainly not now, now that we know that we are so far away from those people who really need it now. I take comfort in the fact that it wouldn’t make much difference, because this 1900 km distance is actually identical to the one covid would impose on us. It would remain a window visit anyway, in the cold, in the gloom of December. I know it would be unimaginably difficult for me to watch from behind the cold window, how those deepest in my heart are struggling, and I cannot grasp them. I crave the hugs, the comforting warmth, the firm arms and the tears we should have been able to shed together.
More and more it becomes clear how unreal all this is, how inhumanly harsh this strange Christmas will be. I notice that everyone is sitting on their gums, that everyone is gasping for breath, for human proximity. Facebook posts and responses are getting grimmer and you notice the frustration that lies at the root.
Last week Nick and Lins unexpectedly visited us. For those who don’t know them: it is a traveling couple that visits the world to all possible nude accommodations. And turn it into their life and work. In any case, this Flemish couple had literally fled from the restless and trapped feeling they got in Belgium. Agreed, as a globetrotter you might get restless more quickly if you stay in the same place for a long time. But when they said from day one in Alicante that they were experiencing a true culture shock, that does mean something. If you’ve already done Peru, Iran, Australia, and so on, and you call Alicante a culture shock, then this is the case. Here they experienced an unprecedented freedom, sense of security and tranquility. Everyone here wears a mouth mask, there are people on the street, you can go out for dinner, visit a museum, and so on. I don’t want to make a plea, I don’t want to push anyone any deeper into the pit, but they too were amazed at the discipline that is spontaneously displayed by everyone here. There is no doubt kept a distance, everyone is neatly waiting in line, without making impossible tricks to crawl past, the mouth mask has become a fashion phenomenon here, and is for sale in all colors and motifs. The Spaniards have learned to live with this “new normal”. And believe me, most have a much harder time economically than we can imagine …
Their visit was a godsend. We talked for hours, expressed frustrations, looked at the world, but most of all in a very positive way. We laughed, laughed with laughter (I suspect this is really not an existing conjugation), dined together, enjoyed casual gathering – corona proof of course. A wonderfully positive vibe danced through our house, and gives us that wonderful feeling for days afterwards. It was fascinating to listen to their stories, to their experiences in other parts of the world that are unknown to us. The feeling came over me when, in a previous life, I hung on the lips of my “granny” when she told her stories.
I close with this positive feeling, with this grateful thought, and bring it to spend this strange Christmas in gratitude for what we do have. Each other -Wim and I-, everlasting friendships that are nestled deep in our hearts -warm and safe-, family ties that – despite the physical distance – only become closer and more intense, and how strange it may sound: gratitude for the possibilities that modern technology offers us to make video calling. To see that smile you miss, to be able to throw another kiss. It’s not the way we usually “celebrate”, but my way of dealing with it. I embrace this feeling, and know that these kinds of bright spots are worth so much to many people right now. The loss may be great, but the love for whom we love, nobody takes away from us, not even that nasty beast!
Un abrazo fuerte !
A big hug !