The masks are off
I'm still high.
China is panicking. China is far away.... It's not us China.
The World begins to shudder. We are the World. But this tiny virus is harmless: the only cases of death are very old people or people with serious health problems. It's horrible, of course, but we are still far from a dangerous pandemic for the most common of mortals. No stress.
Europe is starting to wonder.
Denial: it is just a bad flu... What a flan for such a small bug...
I'm going to Paris. Business trip. Direction Première Vision. My mission? Find new fabrics. Work above all. The economy. My business. My issues. But why are we talking about this so much?! Me-myself and I.
I watch with a distant eye the evolution of the news about this young man, Mister Covid, who seems to me still a harmless white boy.
In my carefree/unaware state, I take the opportunity to visit the City of Light and relax. I am still light years away from the Meteorite that is coming at us at high speed to destroy our lives, our beliefs, and my Ego.
I go on with Rome. It's time for Michel and Emanuela's wedding. I am Michel's Witness. I am so happy.
Now it's time for the shooting of the new collection with Anna; I have worked so hard, invested so much time and money on this new collection. I'm not letting go of anything.
But first, to walk again this city that I love so much where I spent a year and a half in Erasmus 20 years ago. 20 years ago.
Oops. The epidemic is gaining momentum in the boot.
Ostrich. Ostrich. Ostrich.
I'm even surprised that Anna is considering not joining me and canceling her trip to Italy to shoot the new collection...
"I mean, we're more likely to die from a bad flu than from this little thing!". Nevertheless, Anna and I agree that if the virus goes down in the boot, we will shorten our initially planned 10 days stay.
If it makes her feel better...
Anna arrives on Tuesday, February 23rd...
Laughter. Flash. Flash. Blah, blah, blah. As usual. But there is still something that hovers in the air, that runs through our heads, begins to eat away at our morale and little by little, our insouciance.
But no! Hahahahah.
I mock the asians who wear a mask....
And inwardly Anna frantically rubbing her hands with her hydro-alcoholic gel...
I scoff and scoff.
Thursday, February 27
Covid is spreading like wildfire.
"News are bad, no matter where they come from."
Anna decides to break camp and move up her originally scheduled return on Thursday 5-3 to Saturday 29-2. I manage to scrape together another day on Saturday until the evening to complete our goals. I leave her, the tight heart.
On my side, I hesitate and end up capitulating, more by fear of being bored alone in Rome (I've already been strolling there for 10 days) than by fear of this idiot of C...
D-13 of the Crash
I land in Bxl. I feel safer... Illusion, when you hold us.
Wednesday, March 11th
I launch the new collection with an email that is meant to be light:
"Well... these are not "a few" raindrops & other "joys" that are going to prevent us from dreaming about the beautiful days...
In order to get ready for it, I am very happy to unveil my latest news. "I wrote to you...
Inwardly, I'm starting to worry about how big this "thing" is .... But my fears are not yet about health. I am not yet at the point of total denial. First shudders.
Thursday, March 12
I'm trying to keep my boutique liner on course as if nothing had happened. But the deserted streets of the Center are an excellent marker of the rising Tension and make me take the measure of it much more than FB itself. I am beginning to oscillate between fear and the Ostrich.
Even my best customers, who come to the Gong launch of the new collection, are not there. The hour is serious. The new collection is starting to go over my head.
Alone in the store, I now enter the panic phase: I compulsively scroll my screen to glean information about this Covid-19. F***! Damn! Shit. It stinks. But now, it's starting to stink.
A few clients came by anyway. It feels good. Are we unconscious or not?!
Friday, March 13
The Government announces the first measures of containment.
The more I unroll FB to "reassure" myself, the more anguish rises. No, it is not a small shit. It's now official: Mrs. Fear is settling down in my life. In Our Lives. It kills. Even at home... The franc falls.
I send a new mail to my customers: the store will be closed during the week; on Saturday, I'll just be at the workshop. I still believe in it. A little bit. I kiss you (from afar!)...
Saturday, March 14
11:00. Brussels feels like death.
Policemen come to check that I respect the instructions: yes, yes, the store is locked. I take advantage of the calm to tidy up, clean, take care of things... Because I know that at home, I'm going to go off on my own like a big girl on the screens. And that never does me any good. It never does.
14:00. What the hell am I doing here?
16:30: 2 hours before my official closing of my previous life, I decide to pack up. I don't belong here anymore.
Sunday, March 15
FB. FB. FB.
Instagram. Instagram. Instagram.
Le Monde. Le Monde. Le Monde.
I was dreading it. I live it in my flesh now. Confined to the house, my screens are my worst enemies. They eat away at me and stress me out.
The tension rises a notch. Are we heading for an Italian-style confinement? But what will become of us?
Monday, March 16
By way of breakfast, I swallow the indigestible news. Nausea.
And to top it all off, Belgium lacks masks...
My eye starts to be attracted only by the news about them. The headlines are more racy than the others: shortage, Maggie unblocks, scam at the Turks, relevance of unofficial masks that do not meet the standards : artifice or Arte-fact?
Tuesday, March 17
I'm not going to sew masks all over the place! I don't sew for years, except for my prototypes... I don't even have a sewing machine at home...
Well, my stylist friends have started: Ben. Aude too. Vanessa now... They even created a FB group: #sewfreemasks
But which model? What materials?
GO, they are right in fact: it's the only thing to do! Not a minute to lose! I'm going to glean practical information from every angle.
It's my only real way out at the moment: the opportunity to keep my hands & mind busy with something other than the catastrophic plans that are building up in my head. I have to act. For me. And for the others.
20:00. The knife falls. The government announces THE long-awaited and dreaded lockdown. Tomorrow, at noon, Belgium puts on the handbrake. And the fabric stores will be closed...
I am home alone with Loup, 9 and Eliott, 12. I have very little time left to gather what I need. I make an express mental inventory of what will be useful to me at the store and what I have to buy and where.
In 10 seconds, my plan is set: tomorrow morning, I'll leave them home alone with ballsy instructions and go on a grand tour. Eliott is old enough to handle a few hours alone with Loup and he has a phone and the neighbors in case of a twist.
22:00: "Hello, Allisson, do you have any polyester to sell in large quantities?" Allisson has set up her company, she sells the end of series fabrics of all Belgian and now French designers.
Thousands of meters and haberdashery.
A real Alibaba's cave.
"Yes, yes, of course, I give them away. I was just in touch with Aude's FB group (from Wolf): #sewfreemasks".
Oh yeah, great group: to put in contact seamstresses and urgent requests for masks and to provide the forgotten ones: those who are in the front row but whom the Government doesn't think to protect yet. Already those who are in the front line, it's not sad... Undocumented migrants, midwives, home care nurses, homes... "Ok, see you tomorrow! Kisses."
I'm breathing better already, away from the screens, close to people's hearts. I'm going to do something useful. Give my time to people who need it. Anyway, that time will be better spent there than in the digital angst or futility of creating the next collection. I'm not in the mood for that.
Wednesday, March 18
8:00. I rush to collect fabrics, elastics & sewing machines before all my suppliers close at 12:00. The race against time begins.
1st stop: store: everything is folded in the trunk in 20 minutes.
Next stop: Berger: Polyester. No more elastics? Let's go to Leduc.
Damn, Leduc's elastics don't seem to be adequate.
I still buy 100 meters, it's better than nothing. I know that we will need these masks...
"Hello, Mister Assabban?! ... Yes?! You are my saviour! Waze tells me that I arrive in 22 minutes. Please don't close store!".
In front of me, a woman collects the 1200 meters of rubber bands that I coveted. "Who is it for?" "It's confidential." Mood... We get to know each other. We exchange. We confide in each other. We bond.
I do not know it yet but these new links will constitute my new salutary lungs of the next weeks.
14:00. Six hours later, I am back home with my booty. My sons have done well. No arguments. Proud and proud.
By the way, my heart was sad to see the hallucinating lines on the sidewalks of the supermarkets, worthy of a siege... We switch in another world there. And the siege is going to be long.
Did you find yourself in my story?
Have you too experienced an emotional, organisational, x-she rollercoaster?
Before I tell you the rest, I invite you to take the Pen and comment on this article. It will give me a lot of joy. And in these times, it's not to be refused!