#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 30

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 30

Day 30

Some days tension is ripe in our home. I feel on edge, every little noise an explosion in my ears. As a result my partner feels hemmed in, trapped in her own house. I am aware of it as it happens but it is difficult to stop. I close all the doors I find and set to work in the silence of the study. My mind relaxes as it focuses on a specific task. There are Portuguese lessons to revise or words to edit. Soon, I can feel the tension loosening and I go to find my partner.

We talk. I think out loud and offer questions for us to ponder. It is difficult to live 24/7 with someone else, at least it is for me. I have always needed space to be alone and quiet. In this house confinement it is difficult to find those spaces. I am only allowed to get out once a day, my tea breaks can only be in the kitchen by the living room where my partner is listening to a video, the words grating on my brain, muddling my thoughts and unnerving me.

We find no solutions. There are no easy ways into this new life. Both out of life and of this life, it requires new habits and routines that widely differ from the ones we’re used to. We stay silent and hug, gestures as eloquent as words.

I return to the study while my partner stays in bed. I carry on revising Portuguese lessons, editing words, reading online articles about writing or photography. Sometimes, this new life feels good. It reminds me of university days and the time I had to soak in information, to let it brew in me, and to create. It was a luxury time and I was aware of this. In the last year of my bachelor degree, my body ached with the knowledge that this life was coming to an end. I would never again be so free to explore and grow. I squeezed every last minute of freedom out of that year. I lived moments as if they were the last, their intensity forever recorded in my body and mind. But then I was free to move and explore. I took to cycling that year, my neighbourhood expanding beyond my student room and the university grounds. I went to Brussels and walked endlessly in the city. I fell in love and let myself be free to feel for another girl.

I am not 19 anymore and life isn’t akin to the freedom of my youth. Rights have been stripped away from me, from us, and the new limitations they bring do not equate with freedom. I fill my time with reading, watching, writing, creating, and thinking as I used to all those years ago, but unlike then it is impossible to be carefree. Moments of joy are not as acute, and neither are moments of pain. There is a background of illness and deaths. There is an awareness of the wrong in our society and a crippling feeling of uselessness at times. Most of all, I know myself now. I am not so brazen as to affirm I fully know myself but I have grown more secure in who I am and have built confidence over the years. Questions remain of who I am, what I do, how I live, and is it enough? Am I enough?

My partner comes in the study and lean over me to watch flowers in the neighbour’s garden. Too focused on this text, I do not move from my chair to look. But now I do. Tall against the fence, their long purple petals droop under the weight of the rain. On the opposite side of the grass, a garden troll is showing off his ass. At the back, the compost bin is overflowing with cut grass. The rain has stopped, I can hear birds calling to one another, and as I listen and look out of the window, long forgotten words come back to me ‘Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.’

I smile as I remember this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, the only words I know from him. Words that used to carry me through as I cried, my arms full of dirty laundry, walking down the stairs of my au pair family’s home. Words that reminded me to feel the bad as well as the good and to give myself time. Ease will come, with time.

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