March 17, 2020
Again, I awake at 5 a.m. Again the mind begins to race: Am I coughing, does my throat feel funny, what am I going to do if I get sick, who will take care of Salomé… on and on. Stop!!! I tell my mind that as soon as it is light we will go to the computer, we will find all the answers, we will write them down… go to sleep, sleep… I drift off again and don’t reawake until Salomé shakes her ears telling me it is breakfast time.
Hmmm, day one of lockdown. As I switch on my cell phone a message pings. It is from Gouvernement, the French government. Every single answer to my questions, every single instruction is there. By the time I have finished reading I know exactly what to do and what not to do. Good! I feel protected, I feel cared for, I am grateful.
Day one of lockdown. What a relief: there is no need to put on makeup as I will not see any of my friends, so I wash my face, clean up and dress in blue jeans and a sweater. Salomé is asking for her breakfast; Salomé does not understand lockdown, Salomé only understands food-or-nofood. I fill her dish and serve my own cereal in a bowl and add some milk. I have stocked up on milk.
Breakfast done I sit at my computer thinking it would be nice to go back to bed; I am sooooo sleepy I could drop off in a wink. Maybe I am getting sick… Stop mind! Then I realize: it is –of course- caffeine suppression syndrome: I need my morning coffee.
As there are no cafés open, I take out my ground expresso and prepare a pot of coffee. Even the smell knocks the sleepiness out of me. With my nice hot cup of morning expresso, I decide to do my “café” over Whatsapp and begin sending messages to friends and family near and far.
As I have saved myself the 20 minutes of makeup duty, Salomé and I leave early for our walk (the instructions say that it is permitted to do some exercise or take your dog out for its needs). My doggie, thinking –of course- that we are going for our coffee, heads right off in that direction pulling at the leash. It is obvious that her dish of dogfood –as always- has not been nearly enough and she is anxious to get to the café and the sweet biscuit I always share with her.
“We’re in lockdown,” I tell her, “the café is closed. No biscuit today.” She looks at me. She knows what she knows. When we get to the café, she runs to the closed door, sniffs, peers through, turns her head to look at me, looks back at the door and then sits down to wait.
“I told you it was closed” I tell her pulling gently on the leash. Reluctantly she follows me, looking back a couple of times to make sure I am not trying to fool her. When we get home, I give her half a biscuit and she is happy.
Once I am home, nothing is any different from any other day –except that I know we’re in lockdown. First I go back to the Gouvernement instructions to see about a document (attestation) I have been asked to have to go out after noon today. I find the form and print it out. It is very simple: I fill in the spaces, check off ‘dog-walk’ and sign it. Then I put it in my purse, just in case…
After, I have an appointment over internet which lasts from 11:30 to 1 p.m. (I do all my work over internet) so when I am finished it is time for lunch. I usually do lunch in a small restaurant in town called ‘La Grignotine’, but all restaurants are closed. However, a while ago when I was doing a diet I discovered a service called ‘Kitchen Diet’ that delivers ready-cooked, vacuum-packed meals that are pretty tasty and help you lose weight. Upon realizing on Friday that restaurants would be closed and we were probably going into lockdown, I ordered my two-weeks of pre-cooked meals which arrived this morning. I was all set.
Took out one of my favorites (penne with salmon and sauce), added some stir-fried veggies I had prepared two days ago and heated it all up in the micro. For dessert I had a tangerine (fresh), a handful of nuts and a square of bitter chocolate.
So far, not that much has changed with the exception of the morning coffee group. During lunch I work on my Memoires which have become a Proustian job because I can remember soooo much (I wrote it all down in diaries, ha ha).
At 3:30 Salomé gets up from her after-walk nap and barks once to tell me she wants to play, or go out or eat something and that I should stop working immediately and entertain her. Obedient mom that I am, I leap up, don my coat and we’re off again, this time to the center of town.
I want to see exactly what is open and what is not, and am specially interested in a small shop that sells grains, pastas, nuts and lots of etcetera’s in bulk so that you must take your own container.
Once again Salomé is terribly disappointed because our afternoon café (where they actually have dog biscuits) is closed, but this time she is not even fooled because they have placed the large flower pots in front of the door. The restaurant next door is also closed, but surprisingly the French government considers wine and liquors as a primary necessity and the liquor shop is open, as is the tobacco store (I once again thank the powers that be for my almost 28 years without tobacco or alcohol).
My little shop is also open and at the door are the instructions for entering. One is to sterilize one’s hands with the alcohol gel provided in a small bottle, only two people are allowed in the shop at the same time and everyone is to keep a distance of at least one meter from everyone else, and only the store attendant can dish out the produce. Ok, understood.
Once inside, I open my purse to take out the paper bags I have brought for my products and the owner yells at me as if I had pulled out a snake: I am to put them back and she will give me new bags. ‘That’s a waste,’ I think to myself as I obediently put the forbidden objects back into my bag.
I buy almonds and walnuts and pay for them with a credit card as has also been instructed on the rules sheet. As I am leaving, a beautiful head of fresh lettuce catches my eye and –keeping my finger far enough away so there is no mistaking my gesture as a desire to touch the greenery- I ask how much.
Lettuce safely tucked in bag, Salome and I set off once more for home. No one has stopped us; no one has asked for our ‘attestation’ which I have so carefully filled out… actually, there is no one around. Town is deserted.
Once home, I have my afternoon coffee (taking care to give Salomé half a biscuit) and settle down to write this blog-piece. Day One has not been so different from my usual days here… except that I know it is different