(A series of personal observations recorded as Italy takes action against the spread of Covid-19, first published April 7, 2020)
It’s interesting to me how relatively quickly we’ve adapted to the state of things. Lately I’m feeling little wells of gratitude rise up over things I’d previously taken for granted. I’ve accepted that “I don’t know” is a perfectly reasonable response and need not produce anxiety. I’ve stopped trying to make plan Bs, Cs, Ds, and Es to recuperate my previous, and quite interrupted, plans. I’ve stopped trying to guess about what will happen. It seems exhausting just watching “experts” try. I’ve stopped thinking that there must be someplace better than where I am now, or something better than what I’m doing now.
Some time in the last week or so I even stopped calling for the cat. I hadn’t exactly given up hope, but it’s been more than four weeks now. Sometimes I could swear I heard him and would look out the back windows, down to where he might be waiting at the back door, scanning the rooftops of the woodsheds where he liked to sun; squinting at the grey branches of the neighbor’s fig tree to see if he were stretched out along one, barely visible, grey–on-grey. Today, arriving at the studio, I looked out through the window on the stairwell into the back gardens.
I nearly opened it just to peek out and look toward his favorite tin roof off to the side of our building, but didn’t. Later, having lunch on in the sun on the terrace with my architect, I said “Shhh!”, and we listened but didn’t hear the meow I’d heard again. There were just some children playing a few houses over and two small dogs across the street.
We descend to the studio below to take a coffee. It’s cool down there. G. hadn’t lit the pellet stove today. It’s feeling too much like spring. He opens the windows to let some warm air in but the wind is chilly so he closes them. I walk over to look outside. Beyond the small gardens are a row of houses, all attached. Beyond the houses, a street and another row of houses. Beyond them, their gardens rise up to meet the steep hillside that signals where the valley abruptly ends. Green is making it’s way up from the valley floor.
For no reason, I open the windows again and lean out.
“Micio!” I say.
A movement catches the corner of my eye and I turn. There, moving lightly across the red tin roof to jump down to the brick wall and then the pavement below, uttering a familiar trilling meow, is our stripped grey Wheezy Pasqualino.
We run down to open the back door and he steps in looking up at us and meowing, just fur and bones, and looking a little dazed, but otherwise seeming none the worse for wear.
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.