La Desescalada*


IMG_4649.jpg*The de-escalation.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard via my expat-WhatsApp-chat grapevine that the Prime Minister was about to announce the plan for Spain’s de-escalation, or, as it has officially been named, the “Plan for the Transition to a New Normality.”

Twenty-four years ago, M and I lived in Germany, where, among other things, we learned to carefully sort our household garbage into five different bins, to not hang clothes on the line on the balcony on Sundays, and to be prompt.  For that reason, I was sitting in front of the TV promptly at 2 p.m., more than ready for Pedro Sánchez to end my suspense about the immediate future.

The music Spain’s 24 hour news station has come up with for COVID-19 is vaguely sinister and extremely anxiety-producing.  Likewise, the giant coronavirus projected behind every newscaster’s right shoulder.  I’ve heard some kids imagine El Virus as a gigantic bug, a sort of Godzilla laying waste to the streets—and after spending 20 minutes staring at an illustration of that giant thorny ball, I don’t blame them.

Some day I want to live in a world where we don’t have to see that image anymore.

After those 20 minutes,  I realized just how naive I was being. Ever since the beginning of  the crisis, announcements supposed to take place at a certain time have ended up happening five hours later.

I turned off the TV.  If nothing else, I have to absorb the lesson that I can’t control any of this, not even the flow of information.

Eventually, (five hours later, of course) we received the information.

Beginning on Saturday, we will be able to go outside for an hour a day, parameters to be announced shortly.

The de-escalation will take place in four phases, the first of which is called …Phase 0.

If there’s not a spike in new cases, the earliest we will reach the New Normality will be the end of June.

This morning, El Pais came up with a flow chart to break down the complexity of the phases (30% capacity is a magic number throughout).  I knew they would, and they didn’t disappoint me.  One of the greatest and happiest surprises of the past few months has been how religiously I read El Pais.  I even — and this feels like a huge step toward Europe and away from the USA — purchased a subscription.

So here we are.  Not even at the beginning of the end, as Churchill put it, but at the End of the Beginning.