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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

Breaking-up is Hard to Do

In my analogy of a city being like a boyfriend, I suppose these recent days have been the break-up phase. Our break-up is not acrimonious. There is nothing wrong really. We are just parting ways, needing to go in separate directions for now. That thought is dangerous though; you tell yourself, "Maybe we'll be back together someday... Maybe this isn't really a good bye." But you know deep down that it is. Because even if you find yourself back together, you have changed and the city has changed, and it may not be the fit it was before. That is the trick in life: being grateful for the times you have that are a perfect fit and moving on when it is no longer... hoping that eventually you find a person, city or job that will be dynamic enough to change with you, to carry that "fit" through life.

Of course, the early phase of a break-up, you remember only the good times: the morning light in the apartment, the pink cotton-ball cherry blossoms not in the tourist areas but in people's lawns, the smell of empanadas from Julia's, the black squirrels scampering in the park in front of the White House. And before even leaving, nostalgia sets in and plays mind games: "Do I really need to leave?", "Things aren't really that bad, are they?", "What if we just stayed together a couple months longer?" ... thoughts that threaten to unravel the months of weaving that you underwent to make your decision into a tight, rational, cohesive ball of action.

These prevalent thoughts at the start of a break-up do not get you anywhere. You know that they aren't productive and will not change anything, but there is no way to stop them. So you let them scamper through your mind like mice, letting them free and hoping that they don't start nibbling away at your real reasons for ending things.

It's true that we had gotten into a groove and ironed out many of our issues: I no longer take the metro on weekends. We addressed the jealousy of traveling to other cities.  I got accustomed to the constant security checks by voluntarily getting cleared. That's what happens with any relationship: you learn each other and it smooths the path.

But then life presents itself in a way that reminds you of the underlying reasons for doubting the relationship to begin with, the differences that will not go away no matter how much you work on them: "We don't really want the same things out of life." And there comes a time when you have to face that statement.

So despite the sweet memories, the beckoning Spring time, the smiles of friendly faces and hugs of new friends, for now, I need to venture on a new path. And like any break up, I am not sure that my new city will be any better. I am not sure that I won't regret my decision. I am not sure that I won't want a second chance, but I have to risk it anyhow.

Thank you D.C. I'll remember you fondly and hope that we can remain friends.


  1. Great post. Next year I may be moving from the city I love. My boyfriend keeps saying that we will be back that we are just moving to be closer to family. Part of me wants to believe it, but part of me just doesn't. Your post perfectly sums up how I feel. Nice to see others go through it too.

  2. @ Samantha- Thanks for the comment. indeed, I think it is something we all go through at one point... if you decide to move, good luck with it, and good luck finding your next city love!


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