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We’re in lockdown starting Friday at 5 PM, but as far as I was concerned it started today. Wife has an essential-person deferment; so do I. No plans to use it but it’s nice if it’s there. When Wife held up her document stating she could move about freely, it was like a Letter of Transit. I’ll hide it in the piano.
The sun came out and the temps soared. I stood on the porch at the top of the hill and watched all the dog-walkers and moms with strollers. Made a point of waving if they looked up. When I’m walking the dog and I see people coming up the sidewalk, I move to the street, but I wave, and smile. For a few weeks we weren’t looking at each other. Now we need to wave, and smile.
Rotaria, our delightful exchange student who is here for The Duration, had a friend over. Another Rotary student. She’s been recalled to Spain, where Rotaria is also from. She’s the last of her friends to go. It’s been hard for her to watch her friends be repatriated, and this was, well, the Last Sad. They sat outside, six feet apart, and chatted for an hour. Nice kid. I Chloroxed the gate door handles after she left.
Later Rotaria got an email from her parents, full of dire concerns. Since Spain was ahead of us, we had to prepare for the worst. Her dad sent a list – he wanted to make sure that we had at least a week of food, gloves, masks, sanitizer, and the like. She was able to report that he shouldn’t worry. We have all that and more, and (however she refers to me) is scrupulous about anti-vital habits.
I . . . can’t imagine how I’d feel if I were in her dad’s place. Perhaps I’d be heartened – Minnesota is not Italy, Minneapolis is not a dense city like Barcelona, with everyone packed into picturesque blocks. I told her to send pictures of the back yard and the front yard so he had a sense of the place, how we’re not stacked up on top of other people. I think she feels safe here.
Best of all, Rotaria and Daughter get along crackingly well, and end each night watching Spanish soaps on Netflix. The other night I called up Netflix and noted that Daughter had set up an individual profile for Rotaria with a Spanishesque avatar. Why, that means she’s practically adopted.
But of course there’s your host family, and there’s your family. Your family speaks your language, and there’s never the occasional misunderstanding because a word’s accented in a particular way. We were talking about relatives and extended families, and Rotaria said that her favorite uncle was the one who put the wire on her head, and I tried figure out what sort of cybernetic procedure that was – ah, baptism. Water in the Catalan accent hit my Nordic ears as wire.
I was worried when Rotaria read an email and suddenly seemed really happy that she was going to have a problem – but in this case my ears heard “prom,” ran it through it a Spanish-accent preconception filter, and kicked out “problem.” She actually meant prom. The high school is planning to have a prom in June.
In normal times in these parts, the end of March makes you take stock and set the chocks. April rushes past. May, the peacock of months, seems to be one of those months that doesn’t realize its own unique worth, and sprints towards June, its role model. In normal times in these parts, the end of March is the start of the great good time, and we always wish we could invent a way to make it last longer than it seems to last.
This year, perhaps, it may proceed at the pace we always wanted, for reasons we never expected. We feel like Napoleon’s soldiers on retreat. March is Russia. June is Paris.
Later that afternoon I came downstairs, whistling. Rotaria was doing homework at the kitchen island. I thought: I’m used to wandering around Jasperwood talking to myself, whistling when I please – this might be annoying. So I said to her that I was aware I whistled now and then, and she should tell me if it’s getting on her nerves, since we’re all here locked down for two weeks.
“Nooooo. My father, he whistle too.”
“But it ollwus same song.”
What is it? What’s the song? She didn’t know. I said I would go on the special Spanish Dad YouTube and find it, but of course that’s not a thing and even if it was, I wouldn’t. There will be a day when it’s done and she’s home and every single thing she experienced in her American life will be forgotten, because she is home, and Mom is cooking the breakfast they never made in America, and her father is downstairs too, whistling. It will be the sweetest thing she ever heard.Published in