"I'm staying at home." The weather is great, the wisteria over the door is about to burst forth, and I am well. I step outside this morning. People are out on their balconies, leaning against the railing, looking down on the street, which is almost empty of pedestrians. An ambulance is parked up the block, no doubt causing all the interest. Another coronavirus patient? There are many elderly anziani in the neighborhood, which raises the likelihood, but in the whole big province of Tuscany there are still only around 500 cases in a population of 3.7 million.
Since Thursday all stores except supermarkets and pharmacies are closed, and we're not to leave our homes. A walk, walking the dog is allowed, but we are to keep 1.5 meters apart. So I still go for runs up into the hills. At the supermarket people now queue up with plenty of space between them, waiting to be allowed in, and carts and baskets are disinfected between each use. We've never seen evidence of hoarding, though. like I hear has been the case in the States, though hand sanitizer is impossible to get.
My wife teaches her kindergarten class from home, posting activity ideas online. The audio and video responses from students have been extremely cute. I'm sure the honeymoon will wear off for them, but for now, they are clearly having fun, enjoying so much time to play, and getting attention from parents who, for once, are not so busy.
I have plenty of time to practice. I've gone back into the Hanon piano exercises, of all things! My 4th and 5th fingers haven't been obeying me as I would like, so I am truly getting back to basics. I am also painting a lot. I just hope the quarantine ends before my limited stock of paper and paints runs out.
I am disappointed of course, that just as I was feeling the promise of great new collaborations here, rehearsals have come to a halt, and my first gig in Italy, scheduled for April 5, will very likely be canceled. But there's never a convenient time to have a pandemic, right? My one gig called off. But the economic impact on the performing arts–everywhere–is going to be–is already–huge. A lot of musicians, performers, venues and organizations are really going to suffer. My brother's theater company, Happenstance Theater, was facing the difficult decision whether to head up to New York as planned to begin tech for an off-Broadway run of their show Barococo–when the theater, 59E59, made the decision yesterday to close until April. My son, in NYC, is the musician for that show, and now he has to decide what's next. And of course here in Italy, every theater, bar, restaurant, and museum is closed...
My heart goes out to the sick, to the struggling health professionals, to the elderly and alone, and to all the people on the margins of the economy, who can't afford not to work, let alone be terribly sick.
Last night at 6pm, Italians everywhere gave a show of community and solidarity, stepping out onto their balconies and playing music, singing, banging pots and pans–anything. Our little house is on the ground floor, but is surrounded by 6-story apartment buildings, so when I stepped out with my accordion, I was playing to people above me, but–well, everyone on my street now knows the guy in number 17 plays the accordion!
Playing for –and with–the neighbors on their balconies last night.