To be in Italy now.

My days are spent lingering over coffee, leisurely yoga at home, a delicious breakfast of fruit yogurt nuts and oatmeal. Then I make my way out, carefully dressing to be sure I am not only weather appropriate but donning a scarf to keep the virus at bay-all the masks- at this writing, are sold out. And so I walk to the beach where one or a few dogs play with each other or their owners. I could watch dogs play all day, they are so much more interesting than their humans with phones in hand, constantly checking, scrolling, talking…to who? Who are people talking to all day long? I have almost no one to speak to throughout the day. Partly because my friends are a long journey by sea away-and many time zones. Mostly I speak to shop keepers and my favourite baristas.

Elbows set on the ancient rock wall overlooking the seashore, I begin to notice the subtle shades in the waters hue, the nuance of the sky, the texture and contrast of the sand and rocks. The seagulls swooping, playing, searching for food, the open quietness of a city normally tuned to 13. It occurs to me I need nothing, which is probably always the case. We are cursed and blessed with a virus that forces us apart, together and into a solitude, or flings us out, reminding us that our family dynamics aren’t healthy. Like being in a bomb shelter, necessary, but a relief when it’s over. We hope that like winter holidays it brings us together, permanently, that it will bring tenderness, caring, gentleness in spirit or maybe just the opposite, rage, terror and despicable behaviour. We’ve all seen the videos of the toy section.

What will this mounting disease bring out in us? Will we soften to the despair of our neighbor and perhaps the homeless man with his mangy dog?

Being acquainted with several homeless men here, I don’t see many homeless women on the street, today I was fully aware of an acquaintance to-be. An older gentleman who has found a spot next to a parking garage. He sports a large clean beard, a blue wool overcoat and an umbrella. His ‘home’ consists of his territory next to the wall of the garage, safely wedged between its window and a small railing. He has a wooden chair, a tidy shopping bag, his newspaper and a few other objects. Minimalist. A man carrying three heavy and quite full grocery bags stops, puts down his wares and pulls out what might be a freshly made panino and hands it to the gentleman. This is the third day now I have been made aware of his ‘home’ here.

When I walked by earlier this afternoon, he gestured a ‘hello’ to me. So, it’s not just me. He needs me too, to see him, and of course I also will feed him, it’s what we do.

A lightness overtook me as he saluted, we are entwined with each other, he has welcomed me to his circle, I can become a part of his world as he will become a part of mine. So no, I have few people with whom I speak; a different language is being spoken, neither English nor Italian, but recognition and caring.