I’ve been struggling to find things to write about since my last post on 18th December.
I was going to say that nothing’s changed but that’s not remotely true. Things are changing all the time. For example, I’ve just spent the last two weeks working from home, only returning to the academy yesterday. The COVID rules have changed at least twice in the last few weeks. But these days it’s hard to keep up with how much they’ve changed and frankly, it no longer seems the most interesting thing to write about.
For the record, we now have a curfew from 10pm to 6am, are only allowed to meet with one person outside and have nobody visit us at home (with exceptions, including one that allows people who live alone to visit their partners, thank goodness). We have to wear masks basically everywhere outside the house, including most recently when running or doing similar exercise (although bizarrely only from 10am – 7pm). Businesses must shut at 6pm (but academies are excluded). And at weekends, large municipalities (like Valencia) are sealed off and nobody may enter or leave except for justified purposes.
The rules vary by autonomous community, so the situation in Madrid or Málaga may be completely different, but this is the way things are around here.
So, basically we’re at home except when we’re at work, exercising or at the shops. It’s not lockdown by a long stretch – or should I say, it’s nothing like last year’s Spanish lockdown – but it’s pretty restrictive.
Fortunately, the young man is still able to come and visit me. I simply don’t know how I’d cope if we had to go back to twice-weekly WhatsApp video calls, however long.
For family and friends in the UK, on the other hand, WhatsApp will have to do. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I won’t be able to visit the UK again this summer. It may be too early to make that call, and it may be that I’m proved wrong, but right now it feels like I need to come to terms with not seeing them in person until next year – by which time it will have been 3 years in most cases.
That said, the year is flying by. I write the week number on all my lesson plans and we’re now on week 22 so (excluding holidays) we’re now more than halfway through the academic year. And it’s almost my birthday again, which means it’s almost a year since all this started. I don’t quite know how that’s happened. Time seems to be crawling and flying at the same time.
But in spite of the COVID restrictions, life goes on. We may no longer be able to meet up for our regular BeBalanced sessions in the park but Belinda has returned to offering them online. It’s not quite the same – there’s no substitute for feeling the sun on your face during the relaxation – but on the plus side you don’t have to get up quite so early when the class takes place in the living room!
As for the writing group, it’s going from strength to strength. Not only are the weekly writing workshops continuing online, but there are now also two write-togethers each week (one of them hosted by yours truly). These involve a fifteen-minute meet and greet, an hour and a half offline to get on with some writing and then a final 15-minute debrief in which we tell each other what we have (or haven’t) achieved. It seems a bit daft, because you could quite easily get pulled into a Facebook rabbit hole or similar during that hour and a half, but somehow having stated your intentions for the time, and knowing that you’re going to have to admit what you actually did, there is a motivation to stay on track.
It’s not just the online events, either. We now have a monthly online magazine via Medium and a website, both of which feature selected stories written by members of the group. It’s all motivation to keep writing, even if sometimes it’s a struggle to find ideas.
That’s pretty much it right now. I work, I bake, I write, I do BeBalanced, I watch Netflix / HBO and I try not to spend too long on social media or reading the news (and fail on both counts). Having injured my leg in January, running is out (not that I’ve run for about a year anyway) but walking is very much in. And the weather has been very kind over the last week or two. While it was snowing in England on Sunday, I was walking in the park in short sleeves – yes, me, in February.
So, yes, I’m feeling a bit ground down by the ongoing situation, I’m feeling a bit short of inspiration for writing (both fiction and for my blog) and I’d love to have just a little more freedom to get out and about at the weekends – suddenly, I realise how important it is to have something to look forward to. But for now, we just have to keep on keeping on – and if I have to be in a near-lockdown situation, I can think of far worse places to be.