Love in the times of the pandemic


I already have 10 weeks in my quarantine account -the name does not even apply anymore, it fell short- I do not see the finish line, I suspect it moves, or someone is pulling it just when I am about to arrive. But here I am, hanging onto hope.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon this quote by Maya Angelou:

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

I have been thinking about love ever since.

It is powerful.

Love has had to learn to filter through screens, face masks, face shields, eyeglasses, gloves, yellow suits. It has had to find a way to communicate via chat with written words, symbols, voice messages.

It has mobilized us to use new technologies to stay connected. It has forced us to be creative, to innovate, to find how we can do it.

Birthday celebrations have turned into car parades decorated with balloons, colorful paperboards with good wishes written on them. Loving caravans that make noise to ensure that this special day of our loved ones does not go unnoticed.

With a little more courage, we are beginning to organize two-hour meetings, outdoors, with “healthy distance” as the guest of honor, food in individual packages, and personal water bottles.

Eyes have become protagonists. They bear all the responsibility for communicating emotions, since they are often the only visible part of the face. Smiles now come out of the eyes. The real ones, I say, because eye smiles cannot be feigned as mouth smiles. We scream with glances what we feel. We read in retinas the anguish, the pain, the sadness, the uncertainty, the joy, the illusion.

Love has also adapted its body language. We wrap ourselves with our own arms as we look at the other to let him know that this hug is for her, for him, for us. We align our hands with those of our parents, grandparents with a glass in between. We secure our hands inside our pockets because we don’t know what to do with them if we can’t touch. We put a kiss on the tips of our fingers and then blow it in the direction of our dear ones. We said goodbye shouting “Sending you a hug” and soon we add “non-contagious”.

I wonder what new lovebirds do. I imagine there will be some who, for love’s sake, risk it and challenge the whole world to be together. And there will be others that, also for love, contain themselves because they have parents or children with vulnerable immune systems at home. They marinate their desire and imagine a thousand times that moment in which everything will be OK, and they can be together. How many couples have been separated by borders that cannot be crossed at the moment?

Yes, love is great, and it mobilizes us to generate experiences in the “new normal” that are ALMOST similar to those of the old normal.

But that ALMOST is an abyss.

We can see each other, pass hearts and smiles on virtual platforms, but there is still no function that lets scents across. I see my mom on the screen, but I can’t get her perfume or the smell of her hair. I don’t feel the warmth of my dad’s hug. I can’t feel my nephews ‘cheeks, I can’t touch my brothers’ arms as we laugh. And I reaffirm that there is nothing more important than our social ties and third-dimensional contact. And I want that part of my lifestyle back.

And amid the pandemic, NASA and SpaceX launched into space the first private mission in history. And I thought about all these historical events we are witnessing comprised in a few months -how intense 2020 came. And I was amazed at how great humans can be when we work together to achieve a higher good. And I wondered what the astronauts were feeling, but above all, their relatives. Love for science is great too. And I got excited counting from ten to zero. And I got goosebumps watching the rocket liftoff. And I feel hope. And I like to think that they went to get the COVID-19 vaccine. And that soon they will tell us in the news that we will be fine.

And that we can return to that reality where being together and hugging was not dangerous, at least for health.