• Marie-Louise

The Apocalypse Picnic

From the moment we awoke this morning, I was desperate to be outside. It really feels like the walls are closing in. The kids grabbed their bikes and we headed to the Patacona beach promenade. As we strolled along, people were walking their dogs as usual and the runners zipped past us. However, where normally the tables of the beachside cafés would be packed, today there were no tables. We made it about a quarter of a way down Malvarrosa beach before the kids started clamouring for a snack. On a standard weekend, that would have been our cue to sit down in the sun and order a few bocadillos, some fresh orange juice and a lovely café con leche. Of course, with no cafés open, we had to head straight back home.

On our way back, we passed two sights that lifted our spirits. The first - a pair of old gentleman who had set up a little picnic on the wall of the promenade and were toasting each other with proper glasses of cava. I don't know what their thinking was. Perhaps they also felt the walls were closing in, but with potentially a far more dire outcome for themselves. Or, perhaps, this was simply a normal weekend routine for them and I had just never noticed them before. Either way, they raised their glasses to each other, sipped their cava in the sunshine and made us smile.

The second spirit-lifter - we walked past Daniel's brother's beachfront apartment and saw their two kids out on the balcony. We shouted up to them and the four of them came out on the terrace for some much-needed social interaction, just at a very bizarre distance. I wondered if perhaps this would become the standard format of our future playdates.

That afternoon, there came the news that there would be a complete lockdown of Valencia as of 8am Monday the 16th of March. We knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any easier to accept. After lunch, I dragged the whole family back out to the beach. Their were far too many people out and about for my liking, but I suppose most people felt the same way we did and were savouring their last moments of the great outdoors. While the promenade was unsettlingly busy, the beach itself was empty so we set up for an Apocalypse Picnic. Inspired by the cava gentlemen this morning, Daniel and I popped open a bottle, gave the kids some chocolate milk a.k.a. crack cocaine, and played boules and footie until it started to get chilly.

We walked back to our apartment, slightly tipsy and sandy. I was already sorely in need of connection with people who I wasn't married to/hadn't birthed. So at 10pm, we headed out to the balcony for the #aplausocolectivo. This is hands down my favourite thing to come out of this shitshow. Why did it take a pandemic to make us realise that such a minor act could make such an enormous difference? Talk about feeling the love.

It's now bedtime, and there are conflicting reports over whether or not the lockdown is coming into effect immediately or if it is still due to begin at 8am on Monday. It now seems enormously important to know if we still have one last day of physical freedom or are we to be indoors for the foreseeable future? Tomorrow suddenly makes so much difference.

With this one sunny tomorrow hanging in the balance, I'm reminded of a film we watched in English class in seventh grade. I don't remember what it's called, but it involves mankind living on a planet where it rains ALL THE TIME and they only have one rain-free hour a year. I think the planet is called England, maybe? Anyway, some bullies at school lock a kid in the cupboard - and whether they intend to or not - he misses the hour without rain. It horrified me.

We take so many utterly precious things - like a sunny Sunday outdoors - for granted.

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