My friend Mark is a podcast veteran living in Amsterdam. While biking yesterday I listened to his latest episodes. He interviewed some of his friends on living through the corona crisis. Great stories to listen to from different parts of the world.
Last Saturday I scheduled online reading time with two of my new friends and their kids. We met several years ago during singing classes for toddlers. Our kids are about the same age and over time our friendship grew. Since Daughter has little to no interaction with kids her age, I suggested to read stories to our kids. Our first meeting was last Saturday using Facetime. It was lovely to hang out with each other for a while and see our kids enjoy listening to new stories. We repeated this today. Earlier this week I decided to get a subscription to Zoom so I could host the meeting. Watching each other on a computer screen beats small iPhone screens.
Now that I have a Zoom subscription I will host a family coffee meet up next Saturday. I’m wondering what else I could do. Long distance podcasting is an option, but am not sure what the topic should be. How do people work in isolation? Fictional stories? I’m curious what kind of stories you would love to hear.
In a few months time Daughter celebrates her fourth birthday. In the world we lived in a month ago, that meant she would have a few days in school before transitioning from daycare to school permanently. Our pseudo lock-down extension until June 1st means that as far as I can see, schools will not reopen before summer holidays. That means that Daughter will not return to daycare to experience the farewell ritual and she will not start school when she turns four. I mourn for these missed rituals.
I’ve noticed how quickly one can adapt to a new situation. As we’re repeatedly being told to keep 1,5 meters distance from others, I now look at TV series and movies with new eyes. Normal human behaviour already seems completely odd. People shaking hands, people hugging, people in restaurants, people gathering in droves. I know we will return to that normality in the future, but for now, I guess I prefer to read books. It’s less confronting what we’ll be missing for a while and it is possible to project the new normality on the written word.
The thing that bugs me most about our current situation is that I’m not able to visit my parents. Especially the fact that Daughter can’t cuddle with them for an unknown period of time makes me sad. However, I realise there are many situations imaginable when you would have the exact same situation.
Last year I interviewed eight Dutch students about their gap year abroad when they were a teenager. Some went to America, another one to Taiwan, one spent a year on a tiny island in Colombia. Their experiences and surroundings were all very different, but their stories on the first few months were very similar. They all needed to adjust to a life far away from their parents, siblings, friends, knowing that it would take a long time before they would see them again. They all needed to adjust to a new rhythm in life, accept the rules of their host families, adjust to different school regimes and find new friends to hang out with. For most of those I interviewed this meant feeling lonely and lost for weeks, months even. Not being able to hug your parents when you feel lonely and sad at the moment when you need it most, is what most of them referred to when talking about their first period of living abroad.
What I realised this week, is that we now experience this collectively. Despite being at home, you experience the social distance of a gap year. You can talk on the phone, you can send letters, you can see each other through video, but it is not a replacement for the hug we all long for. This is a global gap year, without knowing how many days this year will count.
Luckily I’m at home with the Man and Daughter, so we cuddle as much as we can. As for hugging my parents, I will have to be patient. At some point the gap year will be over. I’m looking forward to the longest and warmest hug ever.
Today is my first (and only) day of work this week. To be honest, I haven’t got a clue what to do. There is some stuff that I could do, but my mind is flat lining whenever I try to come up with a plan for today. Whenever I try to focus, my mind wanders into the unknown future. The truth is that I don’t know what my work will be the coming weeks, months, year. I’m lacking perspective on new payed for jobs and in this new reality I’m not sure how to land new ones. At the same time I started a podcast and I haven’t figured out how to push it forward beyond publishing the two interviews that I’ve already done. As Daughter is home full time, the Man and I have to find a rhythm to take care of her, play with her, while the other can work uninterrupted for a few hours. But he is involved in some interesting paid for projects and I’m not. Therefore it only seems logical I spend more time with Daughter than he does.
I see a lot of entrepreneurs, small and big, adjusting quickly, seeing opportunities for new types of work. I wish I could think as creatively about my work, but for now I’m just too tired to think of anything else than curling up in bed with a book to escape reality.
There is one idea that I hope I can put into action. Writing stories is my preferred way of dealing with stuff. As we are now living in a different country than a few weeks ago I want to write a series of short stories from this new country. Over coffee, the Man suggested a great name for this new country. As I’ve always been intrigued by Scarfolk Council I want to see if I can take a similar approach.
That’s it for now. More tomorrow. Or later today.