En Plein Air

How long had we been looking forward to May 4th, the day of the lockdown ease in Italy? Two months. A long time indeed. What shall I remember most of this period? The singing on the balcony every evening at 6.00pm right after watching the daily bulletin of Covid-19 victims or the frightening number on my scale as the result the absurd amount of food I have swallowed in these months, mostly carbs – and I can distictly see them all deposited right here 😱- ? Now that I am thinking about it, I have to say that my time has been spent in the company of screens mostly, whether it was that for smart working/on line lessons or the tv screen. I have watched the 200 and more episodes of “How IΒ  met your mother” (brilliant), four seasons of “How to get away with murder” (super), “Unorthodox”(great), 3 seasons of Versailles (legendary, oops this is the Barney in me speaking) and there must be something I am missing for sure. For the first time in my life I have showed no interest at all for clothes or shoes, as I have been wearing mostly the same stuff, actually, I look rather shabby, I dare say.

My husband Mr Run has suffered these lazy days much more than me. He is an active sort of man, who is used to running 70 km per week at least and driving 100 to go to work and back every day. His very last purchase the day right before the lockdown had been another shining pair of running shoes, the same pair he decided to wear the morning of May 4th. It was 6.30 a.m. . “I am off to run to the pinewood” he whispered to me, as I was was still slumbering. “Let’s hope he comes back with a good provision of endorphines” I thought, and I went back to sleep.

The latest ordinance had set runners free, but what about non-runners like me? Well, all the other people were left with a dilemma to solve before attempting to quit home: Β what does “congiunti” mean? We were allowed to go to the supermarket, like before, but now the exciting news was that we could also pay a visit to our “congiunti” . What a peculiar choice of word, we all thought!Β  “Congiunti”! The English word “relatives” could be the equivalent translation, but it not exactly so, as if they had actually meant “relatives”, they would have chosen a more clear word for the Italian speaking world as “parenti”. We instictively understood that they had employed the word “congiunti” as a limititation to the number of “parenti”/relatives one may have, as if they meant close relatives only. But how close? After having looked up into many dictionaries and followed learned debates, I haven’t actually understood what makes you downgrade from the status of “congiunto” to that of a simple “parente”, but all I needed to know was that in case somebody had stopped me, “congiunto” should have been the most advisable term to use.

Once “en plein air”, the world around me is not exactly as friendly as I expected. You feel the presence of the unseen enemy and like me anybody else. First of all I notice that we are all wearing far too heavy clothes for the season. It is full spring and quite warm, “weΒ have missed the best part of it” I think with a certain disappointment. Behind their masks I barely recognize the people I know. Everybody casts suspicious glances, all distanced, all distressed, watching their backs if someone gets too close and ready to “bark” in case they really do. With the majority of shops closed, even if we were allowed, strolling around is not that tempting. There is no sign of joy around me and I feel a kind of uncomfortable. I realize that my pace is getting faster than usual among the shelves of the supermarket. It is as if I felt the urge of doing quickly my errands and…..going home. Β It may sound strange, but this is what I truly wished that coveted 4th of May: going back home, where I feel at ease, where I feel protected.

Once safely on my couch, where I can confess to have spent half of this couple of months, I couldn’t help but wonder how this quarantine had turned me into something T.S. Eliot would call: a “dull root”. Our longed freedom has actually a bitter taste. It is more frightening rather than exciting and despite the call to life represented by this beautiful May ( April in the poem), most of us prefer to remain rooted at home. “Ain’t you going to run this morning, love ?” No” Mr Run grunts,” not today ” and turns his back. He doesn’t want to admit it, but he has become a “dull root” too.


25 thoughts on “En Plein Air

  1. My dear Ma-Donna, at first I am so happy to see your “knowledge between the lines” post which, I have missed and actually was afraid if I was absolutely blocked because of my last comment!!
    It is surely a time for thinking about how “Love, is a splendid thing”
    It seems you are going to be a TV series expert but what I’ve missed is the “My Brilliant Friend” wich my wife had read the book and we watch the TV series https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Brilliant_Friend_(TV_series)
    And it is brilliant!
    so I hope you have forgiven me for my impudence and I wish you and your loving runner the much better time in the future. stay safe and tuned πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

    • My Dear Genius, I had to go back and check which comment you were talking about, I really I have no clue. When I pause for a while between a post and another there are two possible options: 1) I have nothing to say; 2) I would have something to say, but I am super busy ( real superbusy, I am not talking about watching series 😊) and remember I am a kind of lazy.
      “L’Amica Geniale ” was I real hit here, but I haven’t watched it yet, but I will soon. I hope you and your family are fine and your first time ” en plein air” hasn’t been a trauma just like for me.
      Stay safe!πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ˜˜πŸ‘‹

      • L’Amica Genial… That’s it! Great to know that everything is ‘as possible’ OK. yes, it is just normal here as it goes every day, and I’d never let me make crazy by someone there; above? in any case, it is wonderful news to see and hear fit and tuned. Be safe too πŸ˜πŸ˜˜πŸ™πŸ™πŸ’–πŸ€—πŸ‘βœŒπŸ˜Ž

    • I really could not. Maybe because I live by the sea and this should be the most joyful time of year : people going to the beaches, animated streets , colorful and light clothes… I could see nothing of this. We are….suspended.

  2. So. I have been wondering what mental and emotional states we’d have as we re-emerge. The obvious expectation would be people whooping and gallivanting (now, there’s a word). but you give the reality, and so much the better for it.
    We always think we are in control, can adapt to anything… without wondering what ‘adapt’ entails, that our control is a story we tell ourselves..

  3. Great to hear you guys came through the imposed isolation. I think it will be difficult for many people to “gear up” again to a life of routine and travel back and forth to and from places. More so because we’re still ignorant about what the future will look like with the virus (we don’t know as much as we would like).

    For us two, despite some (too many) restrictions being lifted, we aren’t eager to resume “normal” life. For one, whereas we used to ignore idiots, now they could literally kill us. I say that because we still see most people, I repeat: most!, walk around without masks.

    I can certainly understand the conundrum of many working families who need to get back to work and I’m angry at authorities who, lacking a plan, proclaim this and that while seemingly ignorant they are condemning some people to die.

    And, despite the idiots, I still think it will be difficult for businesses to get the kind of traffic they need to stay afloat. I remind myself we’re only a few months down the path of this thing and a dark and unknown road still stretches ahead of us. A road made all that much more difficult by the aforementioned idiots.

    Take care, and good health.

    • From here the situation is the U.S. is unbelievable. You had all the time to learn from our mistakes, since we had been struck first, and take the appropriare measures. For whom do idiots vote?? You know the answer well and this is the outcome ( and we are n^1 on this subject). πŸ™‹

    • Yeah, it’s a mess. The level of irresponsible idiocy is as astounding as the convoluted arguments made in excuse of it.

      At the risk of asking a stupid question and showing my ignorance, I’m unfamiliar with the meaning of “we are n^1 on the subject”. Is it a typo or does it have meaning that escapes me?

      • Well, if you see and hear the “profit” I call him that, the guy with an Einstein hair in charge in “charge” of the pandemic…. he will give you a horrible statistic (and they are probably worst) but in the same sentence he will say everything is going for the better. And with that face he has and the confidence he says it, he is great for that job. If you buy on it he couldnΒ΄t give you more confidence. I assimilate it to the British, the BritΒ΄s have a way through language and demenour that even though they are insulting you, you feel like saying thank you. Obviously a clihΓ© or whatever is called but you got my point.

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  5. Oh, I loved reading your post. It is so fresh and honest and a reflection of the fear people feel.
    The problem with masks is that we can’t tell if people are smiling at us. πŸ™‚ I hope that slowly things will get back to “normal” for Italy and the world. ❀

    • Thank you much so Carol. You have to consider, that here in Rome there haven’t been so many cases. Today only 15 new cases in a population of 4 million people, the real tragedy is in the North. Despite these figures this is our state current state of mind. Let’s hope get to “normal ” sooner or later. Ciao. πŸ˜˜πŸ™‹

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