Summer? What Summer?

I had to pick up my medication from the pharmacy yesterday and had a lovely chat with the Spanish pharmacist on duty. She is about to travel to Spain to visit some relatives, and when I commented that it was very brave of her to do so, she retorted that it was downright foolish of her actually, but her family wanted to take the holidays so she is going along. But to play it safe, they will drive down to Alicante with their private car, which will take three days, and she will fly back to Berlin alone (three hours). She dreads the flight much more than the long drive, because of the great risk travelling by air poses at the moment.

Then again, there is absolutely nothing normal about this year so far. Whatever plans we had drawn up all went down the toilet, and I find myself dismissing the idea of holiday altogether for the remainder of 2020. Considering what just happened in Melbourne yesterday, it goes to show us all that we are not out of the woods yet as far as Corona is concerned. Here in Berlin we are rejoicing the re-opening of pubs and movie houses, but the crowds are not there and even though the restrictions have been lifted for small and medium gatherings, people (myself included) are still afraid. Masks remain mandatory in public transportation and stores in Berlin, and I fully agree with this. Yesterday I was on the subway with some drunken idiot who got on without a mask and was singing loudly, and I noticed how everyone around him simply scurried away. The behavioural shift is there, and here to stay. The virus has affected us in such profound ways, that we have begun to plan how we meet people or travel in very different dimensions.

Several weeks ago I switched all my clothes around, put away the warm sweaters, fleece and turtle necks, and brought out the sleeveless dresses and light scarves. I even brought out the electric fans. Ha! Today I am in warm black socks, a sweatshirt hoodie and chinos. So much for warm weather expectations. Even the cats have scuttled under blankets again and are huddled up in their warm cushions, resenting the wind just as much. One of the weather reports cynically said that summer is cancelled this year, just like all our holidays, and we made the jump from Spring to Fall. Damn.

Why did I choose to share the cloudy image of the Solitude Palace (Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart)? My greatest takeaway from the first half of 2020 is that my personal motto has changed from I can weather any storm to I am the storm. The past 12 months have taught me precisely that, and pushed me to scoff at the winds, face the onslaught of rain, thunder and lightning fearlessly. Not all storms are destructive. Many of them clear the path, at least mine have, and now it is my turn to storm my way through the rest of the year.

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