• sarah.bb@eatsdrinksandsleeps.com

Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

Living in a red country sucks

I’ve woken up this morning with a real wave of despair about the state of the universe, the reality dawning on me I won’t be going home anytime soon and plans to see my husband are just a pipe dream.

When I moved to Madrid back in June I was full of optimism, I seemed to have missed the worst of lock down from my Caribbean bubble and returned to Spain when lockdown ended, completing our move from Granada to Madrid just three months later than planned.

That first month I could have been forgiven for thinking I’d dodged a bullet. When I returned, Spain was open. New safety measures installed and I could sit at a bar and hear the glorious sound of a hard shake, go see live music and even enjoy a socially distanced opera.

I loved our new pad in the heart of Malasaña and thought the stringent lock down and staggered reopening would mean this new normal would be okay, so what if we have to wear a mask, socially distance and sanitise every five seconds – it was a small price to pay for living again.

Then in July, I had to return to the UK urgently to help take care of my sister and niece. Having been caught out once before with only a weekend bag for three months, I jokingly said I’d pack for three weeks but prepare for three months. Two months in, that joke isn’t so funny.

The irony is that I have more freedom of movement in the UK right now than I do in Spain. Especially ironic as it was my attempt to maintain freedom of movement post Brexit that brought me to Spain in the first place.

Once my sis was recovered I went to London for work and was due to return to Spain before a work trip to Slovenia. By then Spain was on the red list and if I returned to Madrid I couldn’t travel onwards to Slovenia. So I decided to stay on the road for a bit longer to make that trip.

I work mostly in London and New York. New York is off the cards for now. Today, I’m finally getting round to cancelling my Whitney membership as there is little hope of me using it any time soon.

I’m now facing up to the fact I should probably cancel or at least put on hold my office rental in Madrid. This is when it starts to feel real. Before I was dealing with plans on a weekly basis, accepting I’m probably not going home for 2 months is a reality check.

Cases are exploding in Madrid. And while my husband reassures me life is not too different on the ground from when I left, the noose is clearly tightening. There are 666 cases per 100,000 in the area where we live and southern parts of the city have seen movement restricted as cases exceed 1,000 per 100,000. Those figures are scary high and it is going to take a while yet to get back to anywhere near international norms.

I’ve caught a good amount of flak for still travelling during this pandemic and for abandoning my husband twice now. But the reality is relationships are about two people and are complicated. Over the past couple of weeks of chatting and plotting failed international rendezvous. I guess we’ve both realised we’re making the decisions that are right for us at this time and subject to constant change.

We’ve both got stuff we want to do and achieve and need different things to make these things happen. We have a beautiful pad in Madrid, my husband finally has the studio of his dreams and all the space and gear he needs to continue making and recording music, whereas I’m a little lighter on my feet. So long as I have a laptop and good WiFi I can work from anywhere or where the work is, which right now is in London.

I really hope the world steadies itself so we can actually both be in the same country making our dreams a reality together. I guess that’s where the wave of sadness came today. The situation in Spain won’t be fixed in a couple of weeks and facing up to potentially more months apart sucks. Spain has been hit hard this year and I’ve spent barely two months in the country all year for various reasons. 

I could try and badger my husband some more to leave Spain but I tried that back in March. My husband is as strong willed as I am and doesn’t give in to peer pressure. But I am happy that he is happy in Madrid. I would just be happier if I knew when we’d see each other again. God living in a red country sucks.

I take heart from the fact my husband has loved Spain throughout this whole thing. He refused to leave Granada before the first lock down, he considered it home. He has no desire to return to the UK for anything other than a fleeting visit. He could visit me in the UK but doesn’t want to get stuck there if Madrid locks down (and the UK in fairness could be heading for its own lock down soon). So, it’s a conscious choice of his to potentially spend a second lock down in Spain. And I guess, if he loves Spain whilst living through the worst of times in the epicentre it’s probably a good sign it’s where we are supposed to be long term.

So where does that leave us now. I think we’ve missed the window for any international rendezvous, my husband is bunkering down in Madrid. Looking at buying some furniture for our little terrace there, in case that’s the only bit of outdoors he’ll have access to and running in the Retiro while he can.

Last week I took off to Athens for a few days. As it was 1. Cheaper than staying in London 2. I craved some outdoor space and sun on my face 3. I’d been wanted to visit the bar scene there for years and needed a change of scenery beyond 4 hotel walls.

Now, I’m not really sure what my plan is. Although I don’t think it involves returning to Spain any time soon. I have two weeks in London and then will reassess how crazy the world is and plot my next move.

And this is why I love my husband. He responded to my grumpy Running Diary story this morning on IG where I attempted to run off my mood but couldn’t and just declared COVID life sucks instead, with this message.

‘Come on baby it could be worse. You haven’t got a terminal illness, you get to live and work on your own terms, not to mention travel, perspective is everything. And besides we all have to learn how to dance in the rain, it’s what makes the good times even better!’

So I guess we’re dancing in the rain right now. But that can still be fun right!

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