In a different era, one that ended over a month ago for us, Minette and I used to talk and fantasize about what super power we would like to have if we had our pick. Minette chose to be able to build houses with whatever material she would fancy. My super power of choice was teletransportation.
This way, I told Minette, every now and then I would vanish to spend a couple of hours chatting with my parents back in France in their blue kitchen full of sunlight on a bright day, and be back in time to take care of my Cleveland family. Or I would have a cup of tea with my best friends in her welcoming Brussels apartment. Or I would take a stroll in my old Paris neighborhood.
Now we are in the Coronavirus Era. Day 30 of lockdown here in Ohio but schools closed a week earlier. Many things have changed and one of them, ironically, is that even “my super power” is constrained by the new rules. Even if I could, I know I should certainly not visit my family back in France or my friends at this time.
As for regular means of transportation, both Thatha and Aachi and Grand-Père and Grand-Mère had to cancel their spring trips to Cleveland. Minette cried when she realized they would not come. Thatha and Aachi would have been here with us by now. My parents were supposed to arrive just before Minette’s birthday next month and overlap with Appa‘s parents for a few days. Now both our scattered families are under lockdown, in France, England, India, and the United States, and it’s anyone’s guess when we will meet again.
Of course, the major disruption in our daily life is a global one. What we are experiencing is similar to what millions, actually billions, of people are going through right now. And the extraordinary scale of this commonality is what will make this time unique and uniquely memorable in our lifetime. Hand washing. The rare and cautious trips outside home for grocery and exercising. The six foot rule and the awkward masks. Work from home. Home schooling. Screen time with your loved ones. Repeat.
Right now it doesn’t matter how far or close your friends and relatives are. They are out of physical reach for all practical purposes. The social distancing imperative has turned nearly all our interactions with them digital, regardless of where they actually are. Talk about an equalizer…
I guess each of us will have specific memories and mementos of this time. I am sharing one of mine above. My brother sent me this pie chart when France was only a couple of days into lockdown. It says: “Odds that lockdown will end in 15 days – None / None, but in blue.” A pretty good specimen of defiant French humor ca. 2020, in my appreciation.
They say this shall pass and of course it shall. But the fatalities and the toll on countless lives and livelihoods will leave scars we and our leaders can hardly grasp just yet. Still, everything feels so quiet in our neck of the woods. Not the eeriness of empty metropole streets, just another misleadingly beautiful day in the neighborhood. Today’s Earth Day, as it happens…