I hugged my daughter last weekend for the first time in three months. Actually, it was the first time I had hugged anyone in three months so it was a memorable and much missed occasion. As of today I have four people I can hug within my social circle – as opposed to the “social gathering” in which we cannot hug. I am discovering what my neighbourhood looks like as I cautiously emerge from my house cocoon as the provincial restrictions gradually loosen. I find good news: the French bakery (I have been!) and the gelato parlour (I have been!) have re-opened but there is also sad news: the lovely Italian restaurant on my street corner which has been operated by two generations for the past 60 years has not; they have closed permanently.
I am learning to balance risk with prudence and anxiety with reason as I venture out more often and further afield, modifying my behaviour in the hope of limiting viral spread while tentatively entering a much changed environment and living my life. I see many closed businesses and imagine the shattered dreams behind those brown paper window coverings.
I miss my walking friends and my life as it was before! I grieve for all the silenced artists and the theatre, ballet and symphony that I love so much and that were such a large part of my life. But I remain a defiant optimist and understand that unexpected disruption brings change and change brings growth; as painful as that is. And it will be up to us to make those changes good ones.
In the meantime, I look forward to exploring our strange new world and meeting you there for walks once again. One day, I am certain of it, we will even hug each other again. Bon courage!