I took part in another BeBalanced exercise session this afternoon and I really wanted to say a big thank you to Belinda for everything she’s doing to keep me (and others) active during this period. Thank you, Belinda.
I was invited to – but didn’t attend – a coffee morning organised by David from Valencia Writing Factory. David has been doing an incredible job of keeping the Valencia writing community connected and of encouraging us to continue to write in difficult conditions. Thank you, David.
I also received a message from Maria, asking me whether I wanted to take part in an online language exchange this afternoon. Thank you for thinking of me, Maria.
And I received a message from Joanna about the writing services she’s offering to members of the Black Dog Writing Group during the lockdown. It’s really nice that I’m still part of the BDWG family. Thank you, Joanna.
All this got me to thinking about all the other people who have done so much for me during lockdown and I wanted to say a big thank you to them – to you – all.
I nearly thought twice about posting this. After all, there are so many people in lockdown right now, and I’m sure you’ve all got your lists of people you want to thank too. But still, that’s not a reason why I shouldn’t write mine.
So here we go – with apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten.
- Ana and Javi – for allowing me to continue working and giving my time a focus and a purpose.
- My students – for attending and participating in my classes with good humour. It’s great to see your faces each day and to retain some semblance of normality, even if you no longer have much to say when I ask what you’ve done this week!
- My colleagues – for the encouragement and the sympathy / advice when things don’t go quite right.
- Nouska – for allowing me to stay cocooned in my room for a bit longer, even though my contract expired at the end of March.
- Jessica, Thom, Kimberly, Jodie, Su, Debs, Lily and Rosie – for all the WhatsApp / FaceTime / Houseparty chats.
- The Alcoy crew (and especially Josh) for checking in and continuing to share the love.
- David – for keeping the Valencia writing group going, facilitating (and providing) online critiques of our writing, organising virtual coffee mornings and sharing online teaching tips and advice.
- Kimberly, Josh and Jodie – for reading my stories and giving feedback, even when you don’t know what on earth I’m on about.
- Daniel – for the long chats in Spanish, the encouragement (and resources) to learn Catalan, introducing me to Berto Romero and the many reminders that this won’t be forever.
- Marigold, Melanie and Veronica – for the encouragement to keep singing & playing and the gentle humour.
- My neighbours for not complaining about my singing – or my aerobics sessions!
- Belinda – for cracking the whip and not allowing me to turn into a marshmallow.
- Joanna – for the 250-word challenges.
- Everyone on FB whose memes, videos etc. have helped to keep my spirits up.
And then of course there are the supermarket workers who have provided me with hand gel and gloves, served me so patiently and even thanked me and wished me a good day when they are the ones who should be thanked. There are the refuse collectors and the delivery men and the police and the hospital workers (who fortunately I haven’t had to come into direct contact with) and so many other people who are working to keep the country going. There are the singers and the comedians and the racing drivers entertaining us online. There are the companies giving their content away for free. And there are all the other people who are staying indoors and doing their part in trying to combat the disease.
I realise that not all of these contributions are equal. I realise that sharing a silly video with me is hardly the same as going to work in a COVID-19 ward. I don’t wish to imply that it is. But I think we should acknowledge that we are all facing our individual challenges right now – mine are likely quite different from yours – and I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me to deal with this situation.
It’s not over yet, of course. Spain has just confirmed a further lockdown period until 26th April, and it’s very likely it won’t be the last extension. Even when things do start to change, it’s likely they’ll do so gradually. I don’t know whether I’ll go back to work – physically – at the academy before the summer holidays. I don’t know whether there will be any summer schools this year. I don’t know what will happen in September. But whatever happens, I know that I have a whole network of people around me, who care for me in one way or another, who are helping to keep me going.
My routine might have changed – I get up later now and stay up later – but I don’t feel stressed at all, except when I have to go out shopping. In a strange way (whisper it) I actually feel that the restrictions of the lockdown have given me more freedom to do the things I really want to do. There are fewer demands on me, fewer expectations. But still, I think I would be struggling if I were completely isolated, if I didn’t have anyone to talk to, to laugh with, to share my writing and my singing with.
Fortunately, I do. And I want to thank you all.