(A series of personal observations recorded as Italy takes action against the spread of Covid-19)
My brother is China.
When this all started in China, it started with my brother, his wife and their two boys.
I am Italy. I share Italy with Bino, my youngest brother’s partner’s father. He’s been Italy much longer than me.
Our youngest brother is New York City. He, his partner and their daughter, the youngest and brightest of the clan, are New York City, though sometimes we say Brooklyn.
Our parents are Long Island.
My oldest son is airplanes, sometimes Chicago.
My youngest son is mostly himself, riding this out writing, in an apartment with his wife (making art), with a view of the sea, not too far from me.
When try to stay present, I am often in the present in four time zones. I try to be where my feet are, but it isn’t always easy.
When this wave first started to ripple outwards, my brother and his family were staying in Thailand instead of China, but China is their life and livelihood and has been for nearly two decades. Yet, even though so close to me it all seemed quite far away when the chaos erupted. It was my brother, it was devastating. I felt his pain as he confronted the frustration of powerlessness, the financial blows, and the confusion. Yet there was still something somewhat theoretical about it all. Surely they’d figure it out, “they” being whomever figures things like this out.
I saw the wave advancing but it wasn’t quite real until it hit me; until, underwater, everything changed.
The strength and sensitivity of the web that connects us was suddenly stronger for the empathy, the shared experience.
Coming up for air in a new uncertain world, I turn to watch as the wave advances, as ripples move outwards.
I’m not unfamiliar with navigating the unknown. I’ve been practicing for some time, as I’ve made choices and taken risks deliberately, or have been presented with challenges I couldn’t control. I’ve learned that when the path seems most treacherous is the time to keep your attention where your feet are. Looking up brings only vertigo and panic as the narrow rocky path inevitably climbs almost straight up into the fog in front of you and drops off beside you into a cavern too deep to measure. No, there is never enough room to turn around. Breathe. Feet.
Overnight the Chinese boarder is closed indefinitely to foreign nationals-- my brother and his family, having been trying to figure out what would be best, are still in Thailand. It's now too late to try and go home.
Overnight, we are no longer “nearly there.” New cases go up instead of down for the first time in four days. Campania extends the quarantine an additional two weeks; the rest of Italy will likely follow suit.
Overnight NYC is an epicenter. My youngest brother, the epicenter, hangs a swing from the rafters of their small loft apartment.
Blurry on the phone, my niece is swinging. I am where her feet reach toward the ceiling. I am where my feet are, where she squeals with laughter.
I added this blog as a way to share some thoughts and experiences around the impact of Covid-19 on my life here in Southern Italy. These posts have been a near-daily practice during this time and are largely unedited, most having been first posted on Facebook. They are of course in order with the most recent entry on the first page. I invite you to explore previous posts or even start from the beginning.