Where Have I Been?

The last time I wrote on this blog was on September 25, 2017. That’s two years and a half ago. I thought that I would never write here, or anywhere else except on Twitter, again. I didn’t stop writing because I stopped loving it. I stopped loving to write about politics. I was frustrated, often disgusted, and felt that I wasn’t good enough. Others were much better at expressing the outrage and better equipped, either with staff or resources, to do so. Writing for the other sections of the blog felt futile. Books and Entertainment? How much was I really able to escape reality with fiction, or face it with serious nonfiction? Life, when ours had been upended on November 2016? Americana, mixing lighthearted and heart-wrenching posts about what it is to be an American? Only politics mattered. My writing about it didn’t.

I stopped, got busy living, training for a new career, and working. Blog days definitely over.

A few days ago, I received an email warning that my hosting service would end in April. I thought of letting it expire, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I renewed for one more year, thinking that it would buy me time to decide. Today, I find myself writing these lines, wondering if, after all this time, this is actually the end of this blog, or if it’s a new beginning.

I am writing to you from Milan, Italy

…where I have lived with my family since September 2016 and where I have been on lockdown since March 9th. I had flown to Miami to visit my family on Friday, February 21st, the next day, Saturday, the cases in Italy started rapidly multiplying. My return ticket was for Tuesday, March 3rd. I woke up on Sunday morning, March 1st, to the news that American Airlines had canceled my trip. I began a desperate online search for another flight. One-way economy flights from Miami to Milan were between $2500-$3000. Most were with a stopover. I found one with two seats left, flying through Dusseldorf with a 5-hour stay, for $700. I bought it and proceeded to pack my suitcase.

According to a timeline of the coronavirus spread, on Sunday, March 1st, cases in the U.S. started spreading faster. I realize that I left both cities, Milan and Miami, just in time. This is a source of relief, and it’s also comic, given that my maiden name is Corona. My brother doesn’t find it funny at all. For him, it is still and always will be his name. I, on the other hand, adopted my husband’s last name when I married him 20 years ago.

What awaits us

We read today that measures will become stricter. Now, we will no longer be able to walk or jog alone close to home. It makes no difference to us. Since the beginning, we decided to only go out to buy groceries. Leslie Sansone is a savior of sorts. Every morning, we religiously do her walking videos to keep active and sane. My 16-year old son goes from his computer and online classes to our terrace and back. We are lucky to have a terrace. When we moved here, my husband wouldn’t consider any apartments that didn’t have one. I thought he was being stubborn. Today, I think he was prescient.

On Tuesday my 19-year old son is coming home from England. After many days of uncertainty, his university finally decided to close this past Friday. He is studying at a small beachside town two hours from London. We have been watching the stats closely. Three cases turned to nine in one week for an area that includes his town and two others. We kept telling ourselves that he was better off there, and for a minute wondered if he should stay, even after his school’s closure, but we decided to bring him home. We don’t know how long this is going to last or how much worse it’s going to get. We want him here with us.

A Rude Homecoming

When my son gets home on Tuesday, I will not be able to hug or kiss him for 14 days. Even as we will be sharing one roof, we will be Family Distancing, the name I’m using to replace Social Distancing. I want to drive home the point that for some, the return of family members, while highly-desired, also poses its own challenges. He will immediately go to the bedroom behind the kitchen–the guest room not his own room–where he will strip, hand me the clothes he was wearing during the trip along with the clothes packed in his suitcase so that I can wash them all. He will then take a hot shower in the bathroom right next to the room. In another time, the shower would have been to wash away tiredness, now it’s to eliminate any germs, bacteria, or viruses sticking to his body from the trip.

For 14 days he will not go out, not even to the grocery store like my husband and I do separately. He will not be able to touch Ben and Shadow, our cats, nor take anything from the fridge. He will sit with us at the table for meals, but far on the other side. He will remain in the kitchen/dining room area, without accessing the rest of the house, including the terrace that has kept us sane. Fortunately, there is a small balcony next to the kitchen that will allow him to breathe some fresh air. The area is bigger than his university dorm room, so he’s lucky.

In fact, all four of us are. We will soon all be together. We are healthy. Our family and friends are healthy. We have jobs waiting for us. We never imagined this new reality nor how fast we would adapt to it. It is hard to understand and often to live through. When I start feeling down, I repeat, sometimes out loud like a mantra: we are healthy, we are healthy, we are healthy.

The rest will be solved.