Identifying that weird sensation?
In what way can you understand this situation, here and now?
Can you allow this fear to turn into a new experience?
It’s all about clarity behind the story, the belief, we were so sure of…
My story began on March 3, 2020. A feeling of being objective, on the outside looking in, and at the same time being right there on the inside, totally subjective.
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It was there but it wasn’t there…March 3, 2020
I arrived at London U.K. on route to a family milestone gathering. Equipped with my to-go hygiene pack in my case… the alcohol wipes for surfaces, several sets of disposable gloves, alco-gel for back up and the sterile packet of hand wipes… I was prepared for sensitization.
The logistics of using the toilet on the plane became a whole loooooooong scenerio, thought behind each motion or touch….
Traveling on numerous trains, starting from London Euston Station to Liverpool, then Liverpool to Coventry, followed by Coventry to Luton…
People flooding the commonly used transport system… and me, with a respiratory face mask…
Sort of like I was living in a science fiction scene. The powerful feeling of an outsider watching the activity around me, observing the movements, talk and behavior of the people …I was remote from them but yet I certainly was right there.
March 9 was the first time I noticed the conversations on Corona had shifted from 5 minutes daily to an hour length and intermittently during the day…
Yet, continuing on my planned program, I commuted on the train from the crowded station in London to my Liverpool destination. Still, I am the only person wearing a mask, wiping alcohol on my seat and tray while giving special attention to the head and arm rests.
That evening I started to receive a stream of messages from home. Alerts, warning declarations by my home Health Ministry and directions on restricting what we knew of up until that day as normal behavior.
The hysterical WhatsApp communications and the calmness while sitting on the sofa with my hosts was so extremely out of synch that the unimaginable could not be imagined…and it wasn’t for another 5 days…
Coming up was my host’s vacation in Barcelona that turned into the focus of conversation. Until that moment it wasn’t even considered an important subject of discussion …Receiving my warning messages in my present-day surroundings of the foggy and dreary, same as always, grey Liverpool, was kind of like a contradicting story tale with a big over kill scream… it just didn’t fit in…
The huge gap between those pictures painted from the alarms so very far away versus the actual view of the everyday life around me, was as if placing a huge expansion bridge over an enormous valley of unbelievable conflicting information. Crossing over from one side to the other end just seemed impossible.
Train service from Liverpool to Coventry was the same health kit routine and still, only I was on the train with a mask. This time, as we pulled into the Coventry main station, while peering out of the window, I noticed maybe 2 handfuls of passengers waiting with masks…
Coventry Square had the standard tourists gazing at the Lady Godiva statue, restaurants humming with clients, museums and the university streets intertwining with the movement of humanity going on their usual humdrum…
Tourists inspecting their “Visitor Map” and strutting between the cobble stoned alleys of mid evil architecture, 1000-year-old churches and 17th century pubs.
The cozy hotel had a breakfast room with 2 wide screen televisions producing the constant BBC “Breaking News” flashing Corona alerts. …Sitting at the other breakfast table was a chap sipping his morning tea and as our eyes caught one another, we both stared with a grimace at the “hysteria” on the screen.
Turning my gaze out of the window I was seeing the buses of alighting students with their satchels, folks pulling their market carts and the steady pace of going, going, going as normal.
This phase of mindset became quite familiar to me as the calendar days ticked away… as if these phenomena are happening to them and not to me or not me, it’s them. The bridge joining between something going on with other people far away could not be conceived or imagined as connecting with what was happening simultaneously, right here and now.
Enjoying the city of Coventry with its’ sites dating back to 1046, during the period of Lady Godiva, I was exploring the well documented galleries of the Herbert Museum. Discovering the history of the legend behind Lady Godiva’s famous horse ride demonstration and the strict taxes on the towns’ people, I was spending carefree days, March 11-13th, in this pre Renaissance period …
Little did I know that I, myself, was going through a medieval period and an era of ignorance before grasping the awakening…in the unidentifiable sensation I was experiencing of not recognizing the uncertainty that was already circling around.
This so unfamiliar feeling struck me as something deserving of attention. From that quaint hotel breakfast room and the common everyday street scene outside the window, I called a friend at home.
This verified that indeed she was sane, coherent and that the messages from home that I called hysteria were actually providing me with new information that my mind could not process.
How could I be sitting here sipping my coffee, nibbling on my morning gluten free toast and actually be seeing the breaking TV news decreeing the countries around the world that are planning lock downs at this very moment?
Arriving in Luton city center the day before my pre ordered return flight, made 3 months beforehand, I was viewing the same scenes as were showing in the previous train stations. A handful of people with masks, the cloned scenes from my past 5 days of travelling.
As I peered at the British TV News “Breaking Headlines” I was exposed to a transformation period of walking that expanding bridge like the “Verrazano suspension bridge” connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. Virtually piecing together the new and unbelievable coded messages from one side of the globe to the other…
The change was slow.
Alongside me were thousands of others who hadn’t yet realized that their biggest challenge in the next few days was going to be something that they, like I, had never dreamed of in a science fiction movie.
Yes, what could and would happen was going to become the Here and Now.
The Luton train station was no different. A handful of people wearing masks. A little boy on the elevator holding his mums hand. Staring, he pointed his question straight at me- “why are you wearing that blue thing on your face?” On his own second thought, he provided his personal answer, from his experience of maybe 6 yrs old. Declaring with consternation that it is only for old people.
Little information was filtering down from the country leadership to the masses and even less was explained to the children.
The continuous sensation of me being a watcher, observing this huge gap between the activity of everyday people before my eyes and the alarming news appearing on the BBC screen, was starting to grow. Perhaps an urgency just starting to emerge in the immediate atmosphere.
One moment I am the watcher and the next moment I am right there behaving as a tourist routinely ordering food in the shop while receiving frantic message warnings… There will be no taxis at the airport. What foods do I like to eat?
Why should someone ask me such a ridiculous question? Are there no foods in the supermarkets?
Looking back, I can only sum up my sensation as being an objective observer from the outside and at the same time being subjectively within the actual experience.
Not even a one-minute’s wait at the Luton Airport suitcase inspection. A “Duty Free” usually packed with thousands of shoppers was completely clear as I walked straight up to a cashier…Around the terminal were more masked faces than I had even seen in the past 10 days.
The typical flight waiting time was different... less coffee lines, few people devouring their last familiar brand of fresh sandwiches and even fewer people sitting at the cell phone USB snack counters … less of everything that was common in an international airport..
The security check on my case was extremely thorough and an event I had never had on foreign flights up to this day.
Did she have so much time on her hands that she literally could allow herself to touch every single thing in my case?
Was I behaving against her rules as a safe passenger awaiting to board or maybe inspectors were told to be overly cautious? She had touched every article she could get her hands on and her gloves were not disposable.
What was her opinion or instructions for that hour? Although she wiped the tips of her gloves afterwards with a tiny swatch of swab I could not be sure if she had done this before her fingertips and wrist glove entered my sanitized cases.
Upon the conclusion of what seemed to me her obsessive behavior contradicting the new advice of the U.N. health organization ‘WHO’, my immediate reaction was to wipe with 70% alcohol on whatever she had laid her hands on…my brain trying to bridge the gap. Or, was the gap growing?
If she was seeing the news on the BBC as I was, then, where was her mask, box of gloves and precaution?