My First Month in Utrecht
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The Unexpected Circumstance
I started moving to Utrecht on a Friday night. I packed and cleaned and moved the rest on Saturday. By Sunday afternoon everything was inside the new apartment. That Sunday night, the bars and cafes closed at 6pm.
The coronavirus pandemic was hitting Italy hard and the lockdown measures were beginning in the Netherlands. Over the next couple of weeks, stores and markets began closing indefinitely and what seemed like a huge and bustling city to move to was shrunk down to the walls of my new living space.
I’m not sure how long I’ve stayed in the apartment now, with only those occasional trips to the store for supplies. The beginning seemed chaotic, trying to get toilet paper not only in order to prepare for the coming weeks, but also because I genuinely needed some (you always forget the essentials at the most crucial time: while moving house.)
Now I’m stocked up, things have slowed down, and I’m settling into what has somehow become the new “norm.”
In a way, I’m grateful for this time. I painted the apartment, and thrice repainted those minute and elusive white spots still sprinkled among the bright walls.
I’ve started to go back to my water colours, written some articles, started that big Russian novel next to my bed.
I’ve looked for some of the most time-consuming recipes and made tastier dishes than I ever thought I could with canned foods.
I’ve been reminded that I’m not very good at using watercolours, that I can still write quickly and freely, and I’ve learned that I can get much more laundry done by listening to an audiobook.
Looking ForwardThis a strange and difficult time for all of us, but we can only hope to move forward by working together, doing our part, and keeping a safe distance.
There has been an outpour of support and resilience from the online community and well-deserved appreciation for the workers who will have a direct impact in how the crisis unfolds in this country.
Meanwhile, we can only share our support and stay connected to those we care about. I, for one, have never in my life called my grandparents as often as I have these last two weeks.
When it’s finally safe to come out, we’ll step into the (hopefully) sunshine and see each other again, some of us finally free to explore a new city. I know where I’ll be, how about you?