It’s a mess, it’s a mess, so let me confess…

It was around my birthday in March when the first advice was given by our government not to shake hands in an attempt to prevent the corona virus from spreading. Little did I know less than two weeks later it would be just M and I in our little apartment, like some sort of test round for our emigration plans, only without the beaches, the bars, the restaurant and with a threatening virus…

Just a few days earlier my family gathered on a Saturday for a home cooked meal to celebrate my birthday, none of us really thought much of it at the time. M was happily in Spain visiting his sister, everything was just fine. Looking back I am glad to have celebrated that day with family.

I haven’t seen any of them since.

Three days after that I met with my accountant. A bit hesitant, can we and should we be shaking hands? You haven’t been in Northern Italy, right?

The icon of Rotterdam can be seen from our window: the Erasmusbrug, also named ‘The Swan’

l’Ultima cena
The evening before M and I had a fancy dinner at a beautiful restaurant. After about an hour the only other guests arrived. The restaurant was fully booked, the hostess told us, but several groups had canceled due to the corona virus. We reacted with surprise and laughed a bit about it. Silly people.

We haven’t been in a restaurant since.

Things escalated quickly from there. Daily updates on corona, the first case that couldn’t be traced back, the number of people on the IC, the first death. We had been looking at Italy for a week or so, hoping things wouldn’t spiral out of control. But it was still ‘on the news’ and sort of ‘far away’.

Tuscany and Sardegna
We had booked our trip to Italy for the 1st of May. A week in Tuscany and two weeks in Sardegna. We could always skip Tuscany if the lockdown in Northern Italy would be extended south a bit, we thought. But as Italy put the entire country in lockdown and Sardegna’s corona cases also started to grow, it started to sink in that it was very unlikely that this would be solved in a month or two.

I love how the paint, the portrait of M as a kid and the beautiful illustration made by Eleni Debo fit so perfectly together. And did you notice the light on M’s face as if it actually comes from the window…

Quarantine lifestyle
At the same time the crisis unfolded right here in our own little country and the authorities closed all restaurants and bars and asked people to work from home wherever possible. In the meantime I was glued to my phone and had been refreshing the news app quite obsessively.

I almost fully work from home, and it turned out I live a bit of a quarantine lifestyle anyway. So other than what the news said, worried friends and closed restaurants, I pretty much went about my days as usual. M went to work at the newspaper, I worked on my illustrations in my home studio.

Of course I also got scared and worried about traveling friends, friends and family with kids at home, my parents, other people’s parents. People I hadn’t thought about in ages suddenly popped up in my head. That friendly restaurant owner in Italy, those hard working waiters I met years back, but also the lovely Turkish lady right around the corner who makes the best Turkish pizza. How will they manage? I read the news way too often, talked to friends on the phone and wondered what the hell was going on. And I still do. What the hell is going on?

Vintage finds.

Co-working space
Now that M is also forced to work from home we get a little taste of the way things will very likely be in Italy for us when we move (without the external mess of this moment obviously). I got up early the other day and started to turn my messy studio for one into a neat office for two. The big book case had to go to make room, so there was some cleaning up and applying the minimalist approach involved. Most of my art supplies got stored in boxes and after a couple hours of hard work, the studio looked spacious and clean with two work spaces instead of one.

Looking at the bright side of things, I feel this is a good effective way for M and I to ease into our new lifestyle a bit. Things like not having the luxury to be too picky at the supermarket (damn you hoarders), improvising, working together at home, being together nearly 24/7, eating every meal together, not having our friends and family (physically) near, but talking to them on the phone more often.

Greens and blues everywhere, also in our kitchen.

Grateful
Our trip in May will have to wait and moving to Italy in September is probably way too optimistic too. But for now we are mostly very grateful that we are not already there, barely adjusted and having to deal with this situation in another country away from friends and family where we don’t speak the language well enough. We can pick any date to move to Italy that feels safe and right for us. Of course, we hope it can be this year. But if it’s not, that’s also okay.

Let’s all just stay inside for now and hope some good comes out of this mess.

PS. Being forced to stay at home, I appreciate our cosy little place even more and I started taking photographs of it: artwork on the walls, light and shadows, cosy corners, souvenirs etc.

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