''House of railings'' by Suppa
A story from the lock down: let's not take our newfound freedom for granted.
These last weeks of quarantine have tested us all. Here's a little reflection to put in perspective our newfound freedom and why we shouldn't take it for granted.
It's the sixth week of quarantine. I've never felt better.
In our everyday lives, in the routines and in the constant social interactions, it's easy to lose sense of who we really are. "Our true selves", as my yoga teacher and Youtube spirit guide would say.
Being alone has helped me come back into contact with the real me. I feel revitalized.
It's been 42 days that I haven't taken off my pajamas, unless when I go to the store. And even then, I only change my pants and keep my same top.
Everyday I wake up around 10:30, except when I've watched 18 episodes of RuPaul or Project Runway the night before. Those days I get up around 2pm.
I've had to adapt my diet ever since my trusted Chinese restaurant, Rosticceria Fortuna, closed its doors. They failed even before the lock down happened because, as it was 'well known', the first vehicle of contagion eating Chinese food. Despite my best efforts, I alone wasn't able to save the restaurant. 2,50€ rice noodles with vegetables don't do much in the fight against racism. Maybe in the end they weren't so fortunati (lucky).
Now I follow a diet that's more or less raw. Not because of health reasons but because it requires less cleaning. A few days ago I completely stopped using plates and silverware. Now I'm eating baby carrots straight out of the bag. As I do this, I'm content with my life choices.
Even my self care routine is flourishing, if not physically at least psychologically. I don't take a shower every day as that would require me to get out of my pajamas, but there are other things that I can do to take care of myself with the parts of my body that are already exposed. Once or twice I week, I've been doing face masks, strictly the Korean ones only. Honestly, I don't pay attention to the function of the mask when I'm picking it out. It can be hydrating, toning, purifying, whatever the fuck. I pick it based off the color of the packaging that I'm feeling that day. This morning I was feeling a pink peach.
Ever since I understood that what I was using as base coat for my nail polish was actually an 'oil for nails with regenerating effects', my manicures have been lasting much longer. I keep using the oil between one application and the other because it has the magic suffix "ating", so it must work.
I spend my days reading and playing with Mario, my cat.
I would have never taken in an animal, if it were for me. An ex gifted him to me because he'd say that I looked like "a cat lady". What kind of fucking psychopath gifts you a living thing after only one month of dating? I think he could sense that he was starting to annoy me and he thought this beast would help keep us together. I kept the cat, I left him. For a long time, the cat didn't have a name. When I took him to the vet to get him neutered, they asked me what name they should write on his books. "Mario". That was the name of my ex, him also with no balls, so it seemed appropriate. Plus, I liked that name. It was funny but classic, not like those stupid names they give kids nowadays.
The kid from next door, the one who constantly cries, has a name of that sort. One of those dumb names, monosyllable and Biblical of a sort or Celtic or some other shit like that. Noel, Aimo, Joel, Milo. Names that seem like the anagram of another name but that they make their parents feel so original compared to the rest of them. "I wanted to give him an unknown name, something particular, you know? That way it's only his!" the mother told me as she smiled at me in the stairway, holding her infant baby, without me asking her anything. It seemed right, a name that resembles that of a detergent brand for intimates, I don't think anyone will want to steal that.
I live in a house of railings. If you are not an architect, railing houses are palazzi that face an internal courtyard and every floor has a common balcony which you need to pass through in order to access the apartments (on Google Images you can understand well). That dumb ass mother always keeps her home door open, letting the screams of her child echo for the rest of the condominium, so that way she can have fresh air coming in from the courtyard instead of the polluted air from the window that faces the street. "You know, I'm a single mother. It's difficult but I try to make the best choices for detergent name, maybe in Hebrew." She'd always play this single mother card, even when it didn't have absolutely anything to do with the situation. She'd keep the door open all day, despite the rest of the neighbors kindly asking her to keep the door close so we can quarantine in silence without the added stress of her crying baby.
As far as I'm concerned, it didn't increase my stress, it induced it.
I kind of think of Mario a bit as my child (Mario the cat, not the ex). If I spend around 30 € a week for myself to eat, there's no limit on how much I spend on his food. Every time a package arrives, I leave him the box to play with. As the years went on, my apartment basically became a fort made out of cardboard. At night we sleep in the bed together. I think my sheets are made up in equal parts of cotton and Mario's hairs. I love him, really. Sometimes when I cuddle him, I think about what I did to this other little cat when I was 10 years old, and it makes me laugh. How we change in life. I really can't imagine how that 10 year old girl could service little Mario. Without being all over him, without stepping on him or jumping around. Staying there, still, letting my weight and gravity, with calm, take out his will to live. After all, the times are different. Now we have an infinite amount of entertainment. I don't have to torture little Mario when there's Netflix. But as children, in the '90s, that's not how it was. Personally, I blame the summer program on Italia 1 for what they made the lizards in my neighborhood endure. If they would have transmitted something closer to a teenage series with German teenage tennis players tackling their first romances, maybe I wouldn't have been in that garden observing the slobbery trails from snails that would stop when I pulled off their shells. TV for kids and teens in the months of summer in Italy were truly shameful. The story about my little cat happened in the winter... Christmas depression hits everyone different.
My parents, at the time, were so happy I would spend so much time outside and in nature. Another cute aspect of the quarantine is that now I have an excuse again to ask them for rent money. I told them that my monthly bills, including condo expenses, were of 675 €. In the end, I'll transfer over 580 € to my landlord. The rest goes towards buying premium cat food.
Every night I do half hour of meditation. The wise voice of my Youtube teacher tells me to focus on my breathing, to let go of any thoughts like they were clouds in the sky, to imagine my breath as if it were a wave that would come and go. At the beginning it wasn't easy, but around the tenth day or so I really started to free my mind. The breath that enters, the breath that leaves, the screams of the child next door that drown out in the distance, between the waves. #mindfulness
It's Thursday, I think I'll go grocery shopping. I put on my underwear and jeans that, coupled by my inhospitable and very versatile sweater/pajama, constitute as my outside uniform. Hair pulled up so tight it almost looks like gel, and not grease, mask, latex gloves, cloth bags, keys, wallet. I almost walk out without my cellphone to prove to myself that I'm not dependent on it or social media, that I can be outside for an hour without Instagram piercing my eyes or Spotify my ears. But maybe not.
I close the door behind me. Among the difficult choices a single mother must make, evidently there's that of refusing to close your front door facing the courtyard, even when you are showering. That way, your neighbors, beyond the incessant hysterical panic, are also forced to listen to your dubious singing abilities. "Ah yes, it's a bit embarrassing. But I would do this and more for the well being of the lungs of Ikea furniture name" I'd imagine she'd say, with her dumb ass face.
I walk down the stairs, past the courtyard, being mindful of not getting my shoes dirty and I walk out on the street. Today, I almost feel like going to the larger grocery store. I'm in no hurry and recently I discovered a podcast on the "ologies" (mythology, genealogy, phonology etc...) that I could listen to for hours. I just got the the episode that talks about flags, vexillology.
I place myself in line about one meter away from the old lady in front of me. It surprises me that so many old people are around, when every day death postings leave one to think that no one has any grandparents left anymore. Nonetheless the old prevail, resilient, and the Chinese close.
I can feel a tangible almost equal amount of suspect and judgement from the other members of the line. Not necessarily directed towards me, but just in the air, ready to fight. You never know, better to be ready. Inside the supermarket instead, the employees are surprisingly nice. From the guilty looks to my right, I start to realize that I have exaggerated in my quest to find the ripest avocado, even if I touched them with gloves. I put all three of them in my car to reassure the employee. Thankfully I have those extra 95 € this month.
Walking home, in a moment that no one is around, I stop and take off my mask that I have been wearing for the last few hours. I close my eyes and feel the slight wind on my face that refreshes the sauna that's been created in the region between my chin and lower eyelids. I think about the waves and the flags. What a nice day. What a nice period.
I get halfway up the stairs between the second and third floor and a female cop stops me.
"Do you live here?"
"Yes" I tell her, and I go to show her my autocertification.
"No no, it's not needed. What floor do you live on?"
"The third, right here" I point a little bit up from the area where she was blocking me. She sighs, seemingly disappointed by my answer.
"I must inform you there has been... a disgrace..."
"Someone has Covid?"
"No... They would have sent an ambulance, not the police". She's a little less disappointed now that she thinks I'm an idiot. "A neighbor on your floor has thrown her child off the balcony".
"Oh my god, is he okay?"
"...No". Now she's almost shocked by my stupidity. "If a 2 month old child gets thrown off the third floor balcony usually he's not fine by the time he reaches the ground floor".
"Oh, that's why all those people are down in the courtyard..."
"Yep". She sighs again, not that kind of sigh expressing condolences like before, but a sigh of someone who doesn't have much motivation to work. "Do you know her? The mother of the child?"
"Not very well, we don't have much to talk about. She'd always say how hard it was to be a single mother. I have no idea..." "Yep. I have no idea either, I don't have kids. But I can imagine a bit you know, the kid that has been crying for weeks, doesn't keep quiet a second... Unfortunately this is not the first incident during this quarantine. One second you're murdering your child, the next you're taking a shower as if nothing happened. Some people really go crazy staying in the house for so long." Pause. "So you didn't see or hear anything?"
"No, I was grocery shopping" lifting the cloth bags full of easily consumable vegetables.
"My colleagues are going to pass by in the following days to question you, since the woman is denying everything. Tell them that story about the single mother and how she would complain".
"Yes, I'll tell them. Can I go now? These bags are quite heavy".
I walk past her. I walk past her apartment.
The door is always open, but now there's no sound.
I walk into my home. "Hi Mario".