It’s recap time and it is one of the many things about the end of the year that I love. So here it goes, in snapshots.
January is always month 0 for me because it takes a while to emerge from the festive December mood and get back to normal operation. This year month 0 took on a new meaning, which I’m sure I don’t need to explain. The last month of what passes for normalcy in this day, age, and place.
I went abroad on my own for the first time in 20+ years, I shared enclosed space with 1,000+ other humans, talked to half a dozen, interviewed a couple and had dinner with two dozen. Oh, and I also saw the Santa Maria del Fiore, the Milan central station and the Alps from above. Also had a near-death experience during turbulence. I concluded I would die a happy, fulfilled person. Good thing I survived, though, because it turned out I’ve yet a lot of books to write to be fulfilled.
March was the month when we all fully appreciated Big C.’s all-contingencies thinking, which made him get an extra PC specially for the cottage where we self-isolated the moment the lockdown was announced, so we didn’t have to share laptops or emergency shop for one. It was also the month we fully appreciated primary school teachers. No words of praise would be enough.
I’ve never been much of a traveller but when authorities placed checkpoints at the exits of all the big cities making it impossible for people to enter or exit any of these cities without a good reason (work, caring for a sick relative, health emergency) I was trapped. Literally. I had nightmares of being denied entry into Sofia and then being denied entry into Stara Zagora (the city we need to pass through to reach our village) and us ending up living by the highway. It almost happened. The police almost didn’t let us into Sofia when we had to go. 25 years of smoking did not age me as much as the month of April.
We saw the end of the school year from a great distance, we settled at our new semi-permanent residence, we sowed seeds (and planted shalots), and started getting used to the idea that this whole virus thing was not going to go away in a couple of months as we had naively believed at the beginning. I started making plans to move to the country for good.
This was the month I had to accept that browsing for Covid-19 news on a daily basis affects my brain, so I bought sedatives for the first time in my life. Nothing major, just a herbal mix of peppermint, valerian, and hawthorn, but a first is a first. Access to great open spaces of nature helped.
Okay, this picture is from June but it illustrates the deliberate doing-nothingness I strive for every July. It’s the month I was born in, it’s often the hottest month of the year, so it is really conducive to doing-nothingness. Pandemic or no pandemic, I stuck to tradition and spent a whole week away from any kind of news. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: do it as often as you can, it’s better than yoga.
August is normally a no-travel month for me because it’s the deadliest month of the year in my family history. Also, the heat makes drivers even more dangerous. This year, for pandemic reasons, we had to move our annual visit to Romania from June to August and after we survived that, I was up for more so we went up the mountain (the Balkan that’s given its name to the peninsula) to one of the most revered monuments in Bulgaria. Which happens to be at the end of a long, winding road and about a thousand stone steps. I learned I had underestimated my acrophobia but I enjoyed most of the trip, even the views, which, in my case, were very literally breath-taking.
Self-isolation in the country during the summer holidays is very different from self-isolation during the school year, especially when you optimistically try for normal and use the public transport to and from school. All I can say is the person who invents a way to stop glasses from fogging up from people’s breathing will be rich. P.S. No, contacts are not a one-size-fits-all solution, sadly.
We had a classic autumn, complete with colourful tree leaves, mild temperatures and a major decline in traffic, which made the air a lot more breathable than usual. People were getting sick in greater numbers but I wisely stayed away from this sort of news out of a sense of self-preservation. School was going great.
Big C. got sick on November 1 with fever and vomiting, which switched to a cold in a couple of days. His antigen test was negative but by the end of that week he’d lost his sense of smell and he still hasn’t regained it. The GP’s conclusion, over the phone, was Covid-19. She even said “Congratulations, you had it, now you can relax.” Meanwhile, Little C. caught a UTI and she was diagnosed with myopia. By the end of the month I looked like Vlad, pictured above, only I felt a lot worse than him since I wished to crawl up somewhere and die.
We’re all still here, reasonably healthy and happy, and I’m writing again after a two-month pause. It’s like I’m breathing again, which is weird. I didn’t know I was addicted to writing. Anyway, the world’s still quite a depressing place to be in but we inadvertently got an anti-stress system to help us through. His name’s Vlad and he’s going to be one big cat.
Have a better 2021, everyone!
Oh, I almost forgot. Have a free book about planes and mysteries and let me know what you think.