Now What?

The past week has felt like an excruciatingly slow version of a choose-your-own adventure, from a Montaña Rusa — aka a “Russian Mountain,” aka a rollercoaster — to a fugue state to interminable to a nail-biter to the twilight zone. Last Wednesday through Saturday we watched more CNN than we had in the past year and a half. This would also turn out to be roughly same amount of time it would take me to get hooked on Atlanta Journal-Constitution journalists’ twitter feeds, after years of disinterest in the medium. Every night we clicked off CNN and staggered off to bed, slept restlessly if at all, woke at 3 a.m. and staggered back out to the living room to click it back on. We’re too old for this.

Saturday, it was supposed to rain, so to distract ourselves we booked tickets at a German Expressionism exhibit at the Thyssen Museum and then took a long walk, looping from the museum district through the picturesque barrios of Huertas-Cortes and La Latina and then back home — and the election finally was called. They were dancing in the streets in Philly, in New York, in Atlanta: here in Madrid, it seemed like more people were staring at their phones as they walked past us, but maybe that was just my imagination.

Since then, Spain has gone back into its own problems. At the micro level, our health zone has been confined two more weeks — and the residents themselves are criticizing the government for its lack of enforcement of the rules.

Starting November 23, travelers from 60 countries will need to have PCR tests done within 72 hours before they enter Spain, so now we know what we’ll be trying to accomplish on New Year’s Eve in Georgia.

I knew intellectually that all the dark clouds of uncertainty massed overhead wouldn’t vanish, post U.S. election, so why my surprise to find they’re still up there? It’s human nature, I guess, just as it’s also human nature to think ahead or behind. Damn it, it takes work, to sit still in this present moment, this not-knowing.

Madrid underwent a building boom in the late 19th century; it was all the rage to give the cornices of buildings swirled neoclassical embellishments. I’ve come to love the serene gaze of the faces that peep down on me as I try to stay in the here and now, with my errands here and there, from panadería to frutería to farmacia. They’ve seen so much, these neoclassical beauties, through dark days and fair ones, from civil war to dictatorship to democracy, from Spanish ‘flu to Covid— and so calmly.