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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

Living life's lessons in Italy

Today I went out to buy mosquito repellant and laundry detergant and instead came back with cauliflower and onions.

This task, on one of my infamous lists, was one that I was really hoping to cross off. Every day without repellent, I increasingly undergo metamorphosis, turning into a child with chicken pocks. Yet, my numerous attempts to find this product at grocery stores around town had failed.

Today was another failure. I had forgotten about the custom of closing for the "siesta" hours of 13:00- 16:00. Closing in the afternoon is a decreasingly common practice in Italy, but it still prevalent in some of Rome's traditional neighborhoods. I could have sworn though that this particular store, one that I pass at lease once if not twice a day, had always been open in the afternoon. That is the thing about signs and store hours in Italy however: they are not fixed.

It is times like this though, staring incredulously at the closed store with a new sign, when living in Italy reminds me of life's lessons: You can set out with one goal in mind determined to achieve it and end up instead accomplishing something entirely different.

I like this somewhat humbling reminder that personal desire for something is not the sole factor in making the world turn. In fact, it is often a small piece in how certain events unfold. Circumstances will be what they are, and you can get angry and upset that your plan is foiled, or you can say, "Oh well. I'll make the best of it," and go home with cauliflower and onions.