The honeymoon is over. Today I took the day off from being off. That meant guilt-free doing nothing instead of guilt-laden trying to do something. I did things like eat two cream-filled donuts, pulled out nettles with my bare hands, and bought a box of duster replacement heads for more than eight dollars. None of this made me feel any better.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was starring in a version of Groundhog Day, the groundhog replaced by a virus shaped like a spiky-ball dog toy, and the golf course replaced by the entire world. My daily routine – the Earl Grey, the BBC World Service, the sweeping of the tiled floor – all of it sickened me.
The mood started last night when, just before the anticipated hour of 8 o’clock, I poured myself a glass of wine and went outside for the clapping party. The clock struck eight. Nothing.
The thing about a clapping party is someone has to start clapping. That someone could have been me, and I tried, half-heartedly. But it wasn’t the same without the Bueu anthem playing and the ambulance sirens and the wolf whistles and the people yelling things I can’t understand in Spanish. A family who’d congregated in one of the windows of the apartment building below closed their blinds and left.
After ten days of lockdown and making headlines for surpassing China to become the second worst-hit country in the world with 3,434 dead from Covid-19 and 47, 610 infected, I could understand why the mood might be sombre. More than 700 people died yesterday.
The mood becomes even more sombre when you become curious about how many people usually die per day of other causes in Spain. The country has one of the lowest mortality rates in the European Union – about 9% per 100,000. But that’s still more than 1,100 people dying, at the best of times, every single day.
Now that we are counting our coronavirus dead every minute of the day, watching numbers rise and fall like the stock exchange, the statistics of our mortality can’t be ignored. Sealed away in our homes, we wait, the ticker tape ticking.
Last night I waited until about 8:05 for the clapping party then decided to go inside. But just as I closed the door, the anthem started. I should have more faith, I thought. These are a people who have survived wars and a decades-long dictatorship. Plus, they really like to make noise.
People started dancing on their balconies to Resistiré – a song I’ve since learned means “I will endure” (thanks, Débora).
Resistiré stayed with me, for better or for worse, all day today. Yes, the honeymoon is over and we’re stuck with one another. As my hands stung from the nettles, the chorus played over and over in my head.
P.S. For those of you interested in the English lyrics to Resistiré (complete with images of the cosmos), here you go: