In Maltese, there is an expression – “Isu is-saqaf ha jaqa fuqek”. This quite literally means – it’s as though the ceiling is going to fall on you. Mothers generally use it in exasperation when their teens are constantly out, my mother has used it quite frequently over the years. I was never the homebody type, there are people who enjoy days at home lazing around on the sofa, I enjoy meticulously planned days, full to the brim of activities from morning to night. So much so, that when the full scale and impact of the coronavirus hit our island and people started to quite literally lock themselves up indoors, I wasn’t in the least perturbed. I actually relished the thought of finally having time to clear up my house, to hang those frames on the wall, to organise my makeup drawer, to lounge around in PJs. Fast forward to barely one week later and reality is hitting me. I’ve quite literally spent the past 24 hrs mainly in 1 room, at least the waking parts of it. I watched TV last night, worked from home this morning, watched TV again, attended an online course, spoke to my friends and family and all from the comforts of my living room. It’s not an uncomfortable space by any means, it’s not a small space either, there’s an actual separation between my home office space (it’s on a loft) and my TV and sofa area but it’s the same four walls. And tonight it hit me, it hit me that this isn’t a 4-day relaxation affair in which I chill and get some rest from my otherwise hectic life, this way of life is one that is going to be with us for a while to come.
How long will it be until we are dining out in restaurants? Until we are back to working in large offices? Until we party from night till dawn in a crowded nightclub and shop in a mall.
I don’t feel right complaining, my main job and income are not negatively affected, I have great colleagues who I can work with effectively from home. I have great friends who have organised meetups like virtual dinners and virtual drinking nights and I live in a house with more than the room I’ve just described. I’m also doing this with a husband whose company I love. This doesn’t mean I’m finding this period easy. I’m an extrovert, used to being around different people, used to an active lifestyle and to a degree of freedom which allows me to transform my days as I need to.
Then there’s also the sense of anxiety as to the reason for all this. I’ve been told to sanitise parcels that arrive at my door, to wipe down my shoes on return if I do venture out of the house for a short walk. I’m currently wondering whether it is right to meet my dad for his 65th birthday. It feels quite surreal.
And yet, as human beings we are resilient and whilst this will definitely change us, economically, mentally and spiritually, we will find ways to cope. We are already adapting, my pilates class has moved online, supermarkets and restaurants around the island are all delivering food to our homes and grandparents have learnt how to make video calls. In this time of unease, we have to look for the silver linings and find things to look forward to. How many times have we complained that Malta is not online enough? Well, things are now changing fast. How many times have we thought we needed to slow down? Well, now we can. Whether that means using the time to bake figolli, to learn a new language or binge-watch Netflix, we have to find happiness in different ways as the only alternative is to allow ourselves to wallow in depression. Until we are still healthy, let’s try and seek ways to use our time to be happy.
Lots of love everyone – keep safe and stay home.
Photos Kurt Paris