We’re now on day 19 of the strict lockdown. Although it’s still far too early in the crisis to begin planning for the future, my mind does occasionally wander beyond the next trip to the supermarket (since 9 March, when the strict restrictions of movement came into place, I’ve only left our compound three times, on each occasion to go to the supermarket).
Living day by day, time passes quickly and productively enough. Having some structure and daily routine certainly helps.
An hour or two of ‘lessons’ with the kids in the morning.
My wife joins us for lunch.
An episode or two of Tintin (the complete works of Herge is proving one of our most prized possessions).
In the afternoon the kids play or read. We spend an hour in the garden and then do a final 30-minute lesson before teatime.
I usually go to our garage at around 6 o’clock and do a light weights session while listening to the early evening news (a habit I've recently abandoned - the news, not the exercise).
We have dinner together and watch an episode of the Wonder Years.
The family then gathers on the sofa for some light entertainment, while I look on from the dining table. It’s in these idle moments that my mind begins to wander.
The crisis has not yet peaked in Italy. We know there are more hard days and weeks to come. But how much longer will be spent in isolation?
How will it affect the kids? It’s such a formative stage in their lives. My eldest is just finishing his first year at Scuola Media. With another two years to go, he’ll have plenty of time to catch up with his studies and, more importantly, with his friends.
For my youngest (who turns six on Sunday), it seems increasingly likely that he’ll miss out on what would have been his final few months at nursery school. After three years, we hope he’ll have the chance to say goodbye to his teachers, staff and friends, but we quietly mourn the loss of those glorious final days that he would have spent with his little friends before they go their separate ways.
More immediately, it’s his birthday on Sunday and we’re still not sure if his presents will arrive in time.
Beyond the next few days and weeks, our thoughts turn to summer. We would normally spend some time at the beach, with family in Tuscany and at home in the UK. At the moment, none of those options seems possible. But lockdown in the city during the sweltering summer months would be difficult to bear. We hope for some respite and the chance to escape somewhere.
And what of the first few days of freedom? Street parties and celebrations, embracing our friends and family and returning to normality?
I imagine many of us will have developed some form of agoraphobia!
Will things ever be the same again?
Bustling bars and restaurants, affectionate greetings, sending your kids to school and doing a normal days work (it's been a while!). Unrestricted travel. Weekends away.
Readjusting to the new normality may prove just as traumatic as adjusting to the crisis.
Some kind of phased process of re-entry may be required. Perhaps parks and public spaces will reopen first. Bars, shops and restaurants will be open at certain times of the day, but with strict health and safety measures.
Longer-term I imagine the impact will be something like 9/11. Some kind of normality will be restored, but things will never quite be the same again.
Anyway, it's time to return to the present. It’s Friday evening. It’s time for some music and a spritz.
Some things, at least, will never change.
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A short collect of reflections on family life in locked down Italy
Richard Hough writes about history, football, wine, whisky, culture + travel.