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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

For me, A Thanksgiving, not a Turkey Day

Not to get mushy, but Thanksgiving is generally a mushy holiday if you take out the football (not a fan) and the turkey (vegetarian). Stripped down, there is really only the giving thanks part of it, which I am OK with. I personally think we need more holidays that focus on gratitude and humility... Anyway, the point is that I have really been looking forward to this Thanksgiving, more than I ever remember looking forward to this particular holiday.

It is partly because I have been wanting the quiet and peace of being around loved ones, but I was also looking forward to the expectation of staying at home. Most everything is closed on Thanksgiving, and whether people are spending all day cooking for the traditional feast or following team after team in the football marathon, everyone is generally locked inside for its entirety. There is something nice about that too.

I have grown a little cautious about the holidays after these last couple years of upheaval and change. Thanksgiving through New Year's is a rare time in the U.S. when love and memories take the place of work and careers as priorities. A great thing really. But it is also the reason that people facing loss or hardship, feel it particularly acutely during these times. After three tumultuous years dealing with losses not only in love but also with friends and even with work, these past years I have been a little timid about the holiday spirit, feeling like holding it at bay could potentially hold at bay the aches of healing wounds.

But I have found myself really happy and at peace this Thanksgiving. Memories still swirl overhead and the ghosts of past Thanksgivings or once-anticipated Thanksgivings still sat at the table. However, sitting with my family and a plate full of food, I was feeling happy and immensely blessed. My healing has reached a critical mass where I can see the past from a safe perspective. And strangely enough, I am grateful for all that has happened. (I am also grateful that this period seems over).

Along the way, in spite of or because of, at times debilitating pain, I have amassed a multitude of amazing people, of unbelievable friends in Italy, Baltimore, Chicago, and D.C. (among other places). Out of a desire to get out of my setting, I visited amazing places like Madrid, Belgrade and San Marino. In taking care of my pain, I have learned to take myself more seriously, realizing that emotional wounds need to be given as much attention as physical ones, that they can't be swept under a rug and be expected to heal. I have learned how to more properly take care of my physical well-being, sleeping when I need to sleep, running when I need to run, eating things that my body tells me I crave for a reason. And I have evoked a mentality of being not only aware of, but thankful and happy for the little things. That sometimes it feels like that is all there is... and that even when feeling that way, those little things are worth a lot.

Not because of wise books or old philosophies, or even Oscar-winning movies or sound parental advice, but because there was nothing else to try: I learned that 24 hours is 24 hours. You can spend it asleep and wishing for things to pass or awake and noticing all that is around and all that can be done with the gift of time. This blog and my last year has been born out of that latter. And I am grateful for that lesson.