Restrictions descended upon us one by one. I was always still adjusting to the previous restriction and was never pleased with the new one.
Immigrantville inhabitants grew more careful as time went on. On Wednesday evening last week, I marched into an odds and ends store to find a plastic wall protecting the workers behind the counter.
On Friday evening, I took the bus to visit a friend in Almería. With one sneeze, I could have claimed the front half of the bus for myself. Someone at the station was wearing a mask. And for the first time since arriving in Spain, I saw someone besides my germ-freak roommate use hand sanitizer in public. I knew people were getting serious. I used my hand sanitizer too.
Saturday I basked in my day off, but by evening, freedom as my generation knows it ground to a halt. We all were in lockdown, only allowed to go out for necessities.
The old men were still sitting on a park bench on Sunday morning as if they weren’t the ones most vulnerable to the virus. “And what was I doing out?” you may ask. Well, I hadn’t joined the pre-lockdown supply panic and truly needed groceries. The streets were quiet but the store was packed with people who were NOT a meter away from each other.
“Aren’t you afraid of corona?” the store owner asked me.
I hesitated before answering. “Hmm, not for me. But I don’t want to give it to others. What about you? Are you afraid of corona?”
“What can I do?” He pointed to the people packed in his store and to the money drawer full of disease-ridden bills and coins.
Was his family okay? I asked. They were. People in North Africa weren’t so different than the people in Spain. They were buying supplies to last for months whether or not the virus ever reached them.
On the way home, I saw a patrol car. I must have appeared law-abiding, arms laden with a bursting bag of groceries and a flat of eggs. I wonder if they caught up with the old men on the park bench.
Yesterday (Wednesday), at the store, people nervously steered clear of each other, speaking only at a distance. We had to squirt hand sanitizer on our hands before we faced the almost-stocked, limit-of-6 shelves.
Our apartment is the size of a box (a slight exaggeration): great when it comes to cleaning, but not so great when it comes to being stuck indoors for a few weeks. We’re using our roof to go for walks, around and around and around, assuming the neighbors won’t get angry with us stomping on their ceiling.
It’s hard to know how to reach out to people in our closed neighborhood where everyone looks at everyone else as a coronavirus bearer. I might have to get creative, but the truth is that I very well could be a coronavirus bearer. Should I or shouldn’t I offer to get someone else’s groceries?
My roommate and I made a to-do list: a little something each day to keep things less monotonous. It makes us feel like little old ladies, though, planning our day around one event like a book club, delivered pizza, or writing a newsletter. We even had a virtual St. Patrick’s Day contest with teammates.
Lockdown is also a time to take a deep breath and stare unfinished projects in the face. It’s time for extra quiet time with the Lord and spiritual nourishment from teaching. And time to talk with family and friends both here in town and at home (Praise the Lord for our internet!). It’s time for a whole lot of things because time, for once, is our most abundant commodity.