Daily Life,  Pandemic,  Spring,  Thoughts

How I Come Alive Again

Hello friends, happy May wishes. Although writing here hasn’t been a priority here lately, you know I’ll always be coming back ’round to this space. We last talked a month ago right after Easter. All month long I was calling April “Second March” or “The Marchiest April Ever” which is nooooot a compliment. March is typically my least favorite month and now I probably will always think about it as “Corona month” – the month when it all started.

This end of winter and spring period was really, really tough, especially most of March and April. I had not been in a poorer condition than in the past ten years, mentally and emotionally. Fortunately no prolonged depression lasting longer than three days, just mediocre highs and really low lows. Talking it out helped. We collectively acknowledged we all have been languishing. Studying, films and good books… outdoor coffee gatherings and Zoom book club meetings got me through the last of the dark (figuratively and literally) winter months; that and limiting time on social media (of which too much is definitely a toxic thing). I welcomed in spring at a virtual wellness retreat (March 20th snowed here, this year!) but it hasn’t been until this week that I really felt the oncoming of spring and stepping out of the cold.

Finally, I winter temperatures are finished with us in Central Europe and we’re currently in a cold spring phase very slowly ramping up to something more enjoyable. The weather seems to match the pace of vaccinations here. Finally the first blossoms and trees have bloomed, just in time for May Day (or known here as “The Day of Love” or “Loving Time”) which always feels significant to me here. To me, this is the real marker that spring is here and usually heralds in the season of garden parties with friends. After my Friday afternoon a week ago suddenly freed up, I took myself over to my secret special park where there are no creeps or weirdos and luxuriated in the sun while doing a bit of studying and listening to a podcast. It was the best. I ended the day with finishing the book I was reading (Promised Land, complete!!) while texting back and forth with friends from back home and eating burritos Alex had prepared for us outside. Usually on this day, it’s customary in the villages to gather for a bonfire (Witches’ Night aka Walpurgis) and we often have a garden party on May Day, but with neither of those activities being deemed “a good idea” this year, I was more than content with how my May was starting off.

Since those barefoot in the grass and rays of sun moments, I truly felt my energy, life start returning to me. Charged up. Pandemic sadness can’t get me now!

In other news, we’ve obtained a tiny little grill for balcony barbeques! I am so excited even though it’s such a small development. Just the wafting, evocative aroma of barbeque is enough to cure the grey day blues in a jiffy and make you think about nothing but warm summer nights. Looking forward to grilling corn and veggie dogs this year! Who says grilling is just for steaks? There have also been some major vaccination developments in our household in the past week. The situation is still unfolding as I write this but it will definitely merit a post of its own very soon (’cause woo boy, what a doozy this one is, stay tuned).

We also have our summer plans sorted, somewhat unbelievably: we’ll be headed to Washington (home) for 5+ weeks at the end of July. Plane tickets are booked. I have been carefully considering this since about February and waffling about what to do. Let me be the first to say that I was not thrilled about the idea of spending over twelve hours on an airplane, possibly unvaccinated, during a global pandemic. But. My heart was really telling me that this is the right choice for us and our well-being this year. It got to a point this spring where I could not imagine the next months of only… this. The idea of this summer was keeping me going. We’ll just be in the Northwest this summer, get vaccinated if we haven’t been already, and we’re hoping that vaccinated friends or relatives who don’t mind a short plane ride wouldn’t mind visiting us in beautiful Washington as we want to keep travel to a minimum.

I would like to take a second to acknowledge my tremendous privilege that I am able to do this. I realize this is a crazy-hard time for families not being able to reunite. I know people from Canada or Britain that aren’t able to go back home this year. My heart goes out to everybody and hoping that the situation allows us to reunite soon.

Playing in the forest, mid-April.

Alex has truly been my rock here for this year of hard times. The nights he spent watching Ally McBeal episodes with me (not even his favorite show) while I was having a hard night, or trying to convince me that it actually is a beautiful day and that we are lucky. We need to hold onto people like this in our lives! I forgot how to be grateful there for a second — it’s hard to hold onto hope when there was no vaccine response in sight. When news articles and people on Twitter talk about the pandemic in the past tense when it is very much not (and I would truly like to slap these people). Last Friday, April 30th (the same day as my park-venture, incidentally Alex and my ten year dating anniversary) was the breakthrough point. That morning I stepped out on the balcony in a t-shirt on a warm, end of April morning with my cup of tea. It was that moment when I remembered gratitude. I haven’t felt that grateful for anything in months until then. I remembered how to feel alive again. I hate to make a comparison of a blooming bud, turning towards the sun, but it certainly felt that way.

Right now, I’m working on retaining my optimism. On good days, it feels very manageable, and things have been better recently. I am hoping that the pandemic hasn’t beaten the love of celebrating life out of me. I do feel changed in that way, sometimes – I hope I can recovery that “lust for life” feeling. Tomorrow I’ll celebrate my second lockdown birthday. Very little is open here quite yet (until Monday when all shops can re-open) but cases are receding at last (lowest numbers since early September) and beautiful spring time is finally, definitely here. Simple pleasures are still the best ones, and little surprises… and the sunshine. So far, I’ve started the birthday weekend off right with taking today off (a self-care gift to myself!) and a celebratory afternoon tea at home to soft jazz, thanks to Born In London.

Thank you to you, nice readers, for hanging in there. As things get better, I hope to post a tad more regularly. Hope you weather the last of the spring pandemic storms okay and we find ourselves on the other side soon.