This morning, I woke up and told M I wasn’t going to do this anymore.
By this, I meant this written diario of these strange times, but I could’ve been referring to just about anything in our suddenly-constrained routine: the yoga at 9 a.m., the constant idiotic refreshing of CNN and El Pais, the 5-minute breaks I take to work the World’s Most Annoying Puzzle. Am I going to spend the next month telling anyone bored enough to listen whether or not my neighbors walk out on their balconies?
At this point, what is there to say?
During the first week of my Spanish class after the Christmas break, our teacher asked three of the students, Chinese who had been living in Spain for a while, about El Virus. The first time El Virus came up, about January 10th or so, I had no idea what they were referring to. I went home and looked it up and thought: Well, that’s the other side of the world…
Every few days after that, the teachers would check in: how are your people in China? The students shrugged, said fine. It was easier for them to say fine than say more, for a number of reasons, of which the difficulty of conveying something in Spanish is probably only one.
But somewhere along the way, in those early days, El Virus began to lodge itself in my consciousness, like a tickle in the back of my throat. At the end of January, I wondered about the wisdom of reserving tickets for a trip to Portugal at the end of February. At that point there were only two cases in Spain and none at all in Portugal. We went, and then, once we came back, I scoured the internet over and over and over again trying to determine whether the symptoms of the slight colds we’d caught, cold I hardly would’ve noticed in normal times, matched with the symptoms of COVID-19. They didn’t.
But now, who knows?
It wears you down, El Virus, with its name conjuring up some strange sort of Elvis impersonator. El Virus, caped and rhinestoned, making the most of his time in the limelight, the opposite of a superhero.
Every night, after we clap for the health care workers, someone somewhere to the east of us plays music I don’t recognize through a loudspeaker, usually the same two songs. One, I think, is the Spanish national anthem, the other, I realized, thanks to today’s newspaper, is probably Resistiré (I Will Resist).
Resistiré, written in 1988, shows it. But it’s catchy and it’s got that 80s bounce we all remember, and right now, it works.
En Forma (1988)
Cuando pierda todas las partidas/should I lose all the matches
Cuando duerma con la soledad/should I sleep in solitude
Cuando se me cierren las salidas/should all the doors be closed to me
Y la noche no me deje en paz/and the night not leave me in peace
Cuando sienta miedo del silencio/Should I feel afraid of the silence
Cuando cueste mantenerse en pie/should it cost me to maintain my feet
Cuando se rebelen los recuerdos/should the memories rebel
Y me pongan contra la pared/and put me up against the wall
Resistiré, erguido frente a todos/I will resist, standing tall in front of everything
Me volveré de hierro para endurecer la piel/I will become iron to toughen my skin
Y aunque los vientos de la vida soplen fuerte/and although the winds of life blow fiercely
Yo soy como el junco que se dobla/I am like the reed that bends
Pero siempre sigue en pie/but always keeps its feet.
Resistiré para seguir viviendo/I will resist, to keep on living
Soportaré los golpes y jamás me rendiré/I will resist the blows and never surrender
Y aunque los sueños se me rompan en pedazos/Although the dreams break me into pieces
Resistiré, resistiré/I will resist, I will resist
Cuando el mundo pierda toda magia/Should the world lose all its magic
Cuando mi enemigo sea yo/Should my enemy be me
Cuando me apuñale la nostalgia/Should I be pierced by nostalgia
Y no reconozca ni mi voz/and not even recognize my voice
Cuando me amenace la locura/should the madness menace me
Cuando en mi moneda salga cruz/should my coin fall tails
Cuando el diablo pase la factura/should the devil pass the bill
O si alguna vez me faltas tú/or should I miss you
Resistiré/I will resist…
OK, so say there was some crazy Battle of the Bands.
El Virus vs Resistaré.
Tonight we cast our vote, through singing, for the latter.
*I translated this myself. It took me over an hour, and I’m counting that as time productively spent, whether it really is or not.