Tomorrow is beginning of the path to freedom, fase due, phase two, after this long quarantine. The first thing we will be allowed to do is walk again…fare due passi. Those of you who never lost the right to take walks probably can’t imagine what this is like and I would encourage you to go 600 feet from home in every possible direction just to see what this space feels like. In the last few months in much of the world, we have seen our economies tank, parents have turned into reluctant teachers and millions of people worldwide have lost their jobs. I would like to say that this is all temporary for everyone but we know that’s untrue. It is going to take years to dig ourselves and our countries out in many cases. People who still have jobs, have been, and still are at risk of contracting Covid19 or bringing it home to their families, or roommates. This isn’t going to change in the immediate future. When my husband comes home from work, the first thing he does is strip down outside and goes to take a shower. During this quarantine, people who live alone and especially the elderly have suffered from extreme isolation. Those of us who have lost are jobs are worried about how long we might be unemployed and whether we will get any financial aid as the systems are so backlogged. In some countries, the aid will come as tax relief next year, but that doesn’t help anyone pay their bills today. Talking with people sometimes helps and sometimes hurts, depending on their energy which often just depends on the day since we’ve been on this manic ride. Is it a good day or is it a down day? When I start over-thinking all of this, it makes me crazy, but for the last week there has been a little light shining in, as we look forward to walking freely again. Facciamo due passi.
We are not at the end of this roller coaster ride. I can honestly say going into what is being called “phase 2,” there is a sense of hopefulness, but also trepidation. I happen to live in one the regions with the highest active number of Covid19 cases. What happens if people start to get complacent and let their guard down, or rather take their masks off. What happens when someone who is feeling a little under the weather doesn’t self-quarantine immediately thinking it’s just a little cold, a minor headache, and four to five days later they are in bed with a fever and it actually is Covid19? In the meantime, they’ve spread it unwittingly to just a couple of people even if they did everything right: wore a mask in public, practiced proper hygiene and sanitized their surfaces. Then there are the people that refuse to wear masks and don’t care a whip about anyone in the world but themselves and their rights, which have already been infringed upon. I hope that these crazy people with big voices, who get far too much press, are truly the minority, but they scare the shit out of me. These are the people who keep the rest of us from getting on with life.
Here in Italy, where our lock-down was much stricter than in many parts of Europe and N. America, have just been given a new set of rules for phase 2. Not much is changing for the next few weeks. We can visit family who live within our regions. Any time we go somewhere we will still need to carry our auto-certification and there will continue to be checkpoints where we are randomly flagged down to make sure we aren’t overstepping our boundaries. We can go outside and walk, run or bike, with our auto-certification, but there is no stopping and sitting on a park bench to catch your breath and you have to walk alone unless you are with a family member, yes one…no more than that. We can’t yet go for a hike in the mountains, only those who live there can. Obviously we have to wear masks in crowded public spaces and shops and when using mass transit.
More businesses will be reopening which is great, but only a limited number of people will be allowed inside at any given time depending on the size of the place. To give you and idea of how this works, the small grocer I have been using throughout the quarantine will continue to allow only three people inside at any given time, and in our town’s post office, no more than two. This has been a great exercise in learning and respecting your place in line. The Italians have never been very good at lines. Restaurants will finally start to open for takeout. That hasn’t been an option up till now unless they were able to deliver, so city dwellers had a few options but people in small towns and villages did not. It’s a good thing that so many Italians are good cooks, and I have heard many a person say they need to go on a diet after all this.
Monday, May 4th, 2020 will be an important day here in Italy and despite my fear of what might happen next, I am going to take a walk with my youngest son…my first walk will be to the cemetery to change the flowers on my in-laws tombs. There are peonies and roses in the garden that my mother-in-law, Maria, planted many years ago. Visiting the cemetery was something we did at least weekly before all this began and with so many deaths in the last couple of months, I think it is fitting to visit the dead before moving on with living. Once I’ve changed to flowers I will be walking out of town and simply see how far my legs want to take me.