Wednesday 10 June 2020

My incredible shrinking world

First they closed the borders, so that it is you and the others again: Germany (low infection numbers = safe) vs. Italy (high infection numbers = dangerous). Or: Germany (strict measures until present day) vs. Switzerland (contact restrictions stopped). Europe has ceased to exist and all of a sudden its countries are separate again. 

Even worse: Germany consists of quite independent federal states and because most of the corona measures are decided on a "Bundesland"-basis, it really matters where exactly you live. You start comparing your situation with those of the other provinces: I live in the Saarland. As our regional prime minister is particularly interested in showing resoluteness, the measures here are stricter than in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinat. All these months, I was really envious of the relative freedom they had. They could sit on a bench in a park. We were not allowed to. In Hesse, they even were permitted to visit friends. Here, this was strictly forbidden for a long time.

Then recently, the government decided that lockdowns will be made stricter again, when there are more than 50 (in Saarland 35) infections per 100.000 inhabitants over 7 days in one immediate region. So now you start comparing the numbers in the different cities of your "Bundesland" and hope that your city’s won't go up. The "Regionalverband Saarbrücken" looks very good at the moment. Our average infection rate over the last 7 days is 1,22. Neunkirchen is more critical - they’ve got 6,83 daily infections per 100.000 inhabitants. So I hope it will not seep over. (Note how I am obsessing over such low numbers! We’re far away from the 30, have not reached this number since mid April, but I am already worried, because every single registered infection now endangers the lifting of restrictions and therefore my livelihood.)

Also, I almost never leave the flat. I have no fear of the virus, but there are only very few reasons for me to go out: there is no work, no travel, no money to spend in restaurants or with other activities, no inclination to go into stores having to wear a mask... I go out once a week for grocery shopping, occasionally to run and in the last two weeks, we’ve again taken up privates.  But our studio is in the same house. 

I spend my entire days in front of the computer screen. When I am not working on our digital versions of Caminar Abrazados, I am trying to coordinate other dance schools in our region, writing protest-letters to ministries and watching the numbers. Day in, day out observing the numbers on John Hopkins, on the site of the RKI, the WHO and some others. This is my new hobby.

In past years, the whole world seemed small, because I felt connected all over it. I travelled all year, made friends in so many different countries. The distances between us became irrelevant. Now my world is small and the others are far, far away.

Even the distance to my non-tango friends in the same city has become huge, feels unbreachable. Their lives have changed considerably less as they went on working normally all these months and have hobbies that were not prohibited. They meet colleagues, go out, earn their living. I am reduced to receiving charity and trying to sell digital products, that (I guess) most buy out of pity. They are successful university teachers or computer specialists. I am the looser artist who’d better stuck to her profession as a psychologist.

My world has collapsed. It is now only one room, one chair with the same view every hour of the day.

One day, this might disappear too. 

Note: Yes, I know that it should be "My incredibly shrinking world". But those who know me might have guessed the pop-culture reference.