As I sit down to write this, I can hear the rhythmic thud, from elsewhere in the building, of one of the neighbors doing their daily calisthenics, maybe jumping jacks, maybe jump rope, maybe running in place. Earlier, one daughter ran up and down the hallway for 20 minutes, and then we gathered in the living room en familia for a 7 minute cardio workout.
Last night over dinner, we debated: when exactly did our lockdown start? Was it the first day there was no school, a week ago Wednesday, which would make this Day 11? Or was it the day the official Estado de Alarma began, which would make this Day 8? We opted for the former. The girls are a little bitter that their friends States-side count days when they can take walks as days of quarantine, when they can’t even leave the apartment at all. —Are we talking about a Spanish Lockdown or an American Lockdown? one asked, ironically, this morning. I’ll hand them those three extra days, and happily. They deserve medals.
We’re all developing our routines. I wake before everyone else, and commune, over coffee, with the absolute silence permeating Madrid. It enwraps us, along with the gray down of the persistent cloudy days. Then I attempt to read El Pais in Spanish. Then I click Google Translate. It sort of works, although Google Translate believes sanitarios (health care workers) are toilets.
A few days ago, I clicked on a story and found myself reading the Daily Journal one of their columnists is keeping. Maybe because it’s written in more colloquial language, I seem to be able to understand it better. I still need to look up words, but I get most of it — and the musical it I’m getting is nothing Google Translate can capture. It only works in Spanish.
This intangible music is, I realize, what I’ve been missing since we moved here. Even when I understand, I don’t understand, I’ve kept saying.
Of course, it’s one thing to understand the written word, and another thing to be able to speak a language. I have a long long way to go. But how strange, in the middle of this madness, to receive this gift, of connection and language.