I started writing this post on Monday evening when I could say that the first day of confinement had nearly reached an end. Fortunately enough for me in this case, I have two old parents whose needs I have to attend so I am allowed to commute where they are from time to time and this means I know I won’t be locked in the flat as many other people will. Little did I know when we were forced to close the school last Thursday, that citizens would lose almost all their rights for a period of 15 days, which most of us think will extend in time. Long enough to abolish the few rights we still have because the confinement translates into an economic crisis that will enslave the vast majority. Enterprises will shut down, there will be dismissals and in order to get a job you will have to pay lip service and work overtime for little money. We are all grown-ups; we know what it means when half a country paralyzes and even more when the president himself speaks about sacrifices. The salaries of those on top won’t suffer in the least.
On Friday the government announced that people should practise social distancing, thus meaning that schools, libraries, fitness clubs, bars and restaurants would have to close to prevent people from gathering together and spreading the virus. But we still had one day of freedom to go for a stroll with someone if we kept the recommended distance. Not that I liked the idea of working from home in front of my computer instead of going to school. However, I still thought I could handle the situation. But then the bomb fell on us all. I was watching TV with my boyfriend when Pedro Sánchez gave his speech about protecting citizens and confining them. Going to the street was strictly forbidden if it wasn’t to go shopping for basics, to the chemistry or to the doctor.
I guess it was clear to most of us, what the measures would mean. First of all Spain reintroduced a concealed 155 with the state of alarm. People can’t get together, have to work from their homes, the government can use their properties if it finds it suitable and we have to endure the effects of the coming crisis. But I wonder why Spain didn’t close its borders and forbid tourists to visit the country to try to avoid the widespread of the virus weeks ago? And why for heaven’s sake, if the main focus was Madrid, did trains still travel there and depart from there to other parts of the country? The government in Catalonia was frantically asking Madrid to close Catalonia’s borders to protect us but also to prevent contagious Catalans from travelling elsewhere.
I reckon he mood was already sinking and it was only the first day. Some of us have to get used to work via internet. The other terrible thing is lack of movement. Monday I felt as if I had been on a plane for hours in a raw. Most of us are used to moving around continuously and I very often find it like a piece of heaven to be able to sit and read for a couple of hours to give my body a rest. On Monday though, I had the impression I would be glad if I could exercise outside for two hours. The most beautiful places in the city had been fenced to prevent people from the tantalizing thought of a stroll. What used to be so natural is now a forbidden dream.
On Tuesday I managed to be able to sit in front of my computer on time since I wasn’t asked to leave the house to solve something for my parents. The cloudy and rather cold day made it easy on me to stay home and to go for a real “confinement experience”. However, I was informed my father was to be moved to another clinic, so I needed to organise getting his things to a different part of the city.
I saw it as an opportunity to get out of the house legally. I did not go there very early cause I wanted to finish my working tasks and eat something before. A taxi driver yelled something at me for being in the street. There were other people on their bikes too, but I had just coughed the moment she was passing by. Jesus Christ! Every coughing human being is looked at as if he/she were a criminal. I wondered why people want to attack other people so quickly verbally, maybe it is a long-repressed anger that they can freely display now.
It must have been around five in the afternoon when I left home. There were really very few people in the streets in my neighbourhood and the streets seemed rather quiet until I got to the neighbourhood of Gràcia. Surprisingly enough, I saw as much movement there as we have here in Poblenou in a busy day.
No sooner had I got out of the clinic that I received a phone call. It didn’t last long yet enough for a man to shout at me and insult me from a balcony, he was threatening me to call the police. I finished the phone call in a rush and rode down the street hoping nobody would throw any stone at me. The neighbours in Poblenou had informed via Facebook that people where trying to hit the passers-by with stones and other objects and I felt pity for the human race because I believe we quickly turn into animals when we envy something or don’t stick to the established rules. It dawned on me that this confinement might show the best and the worst of us.
But I see in it a chance. For instance, when we learned that Spain was to be confined for 15 days, my first reaction was to ask my boyfriend to come and live in my flat with Pablo, his cat. People consider myself a loner, but I found myself choosing to be locked in my apartment with my boyfriend rather than wanting to spend the 15 days in solitude. To be honest, I am not a person that has to be continuously with a lot of people. I don’t like mass get-togethers; I avoid events such as concerts and local festivities cause I prefer to be with a close friend or two than lost in a crowd. Therefore, I had to redefine myself as not being unsociable but highly selective.
My boyfriend was probably right when he said that many couples might experience serious relationship problems since they have to be together non-stop and locked for a long period of time. There have been cases in China already. The situation is indeed extraordinarily rare and odd to all of us. But after a couple of days I can already see some advantages in it. This confinement has given me the change to find a space with my boyfriend that I could not have had without it. Because we both work from home now, a lot of our daily stress is not there. And I guess stress is what can destabilise relationships the most.
In a normal day I get up in a hurry, have a coffee, a shower and dress up and eat something and I cycle to work. Not an easy job if we take into account that cars drive in a reckless way, other bikes insult those slower than them and scooter riders who can drive at incredible speed their electric scooters try their best to make you fall off your bike. Thus, the pre-work period is full of distress. Then at school my ears are bombed with perpetual noise and I have to put up with the everyday school problems that include aggressive students, frustrated workmates and unhappy parents. And then go back home and still be productive for the rest of the day.
For the past five months I have had a lot of pressure in my life, so much that I have not found the time to listen to the silence or to my own thoughts. My days were flying away from me without any chance of any inner peace or reflection. Believe it or not the confinement has made us all slow down. You still could argue that I am not in the worst of the cases. My confinement isn’t so strict cause I have to get out of the house to attend my parents and on top of that I can work from home and this makes my day meaningful. Other people are locked in their flats and have been temporarily— let’s hope it is only for a couple of weeks– made redundant and don’t work from home. Shop assistants, barmaids, cooks, etc will be home without any particular task to do. Confinement for them might be boring to death.
It may also be awful for those used to get engaged in activities with bunches of people. That’s not my case either. I don’t dare say that I am enjoying the confinement, but it was the break I have needed for a long time. Mind you, I miss my swimming and cycling but I have taken up stretching exercises that I badly required and was short of time to do and I have discovered that going up and down the stairs is a cheap and effective way to move.
I wonder how I am going to feel about the confinement in a week but for the time being I have decided to see it as a chance to have some time off from the rest of the world. And let’s be quite honest: internet and the media are a great help because they keep us close to the people we care for without risking our or other people’s health.