For a very long time, I pondered how to start this blog, knowing so much has been told about Covid-19. We have heard so much about this topic and we are aware that this story slowly became the center of our attention and this changed our future.
We all know how this monster came to our world.
We all know we ignored it, just a little, in the beginning.
Then we started to think… About what?
Everyone thought about it in his own way. I, a man who never lost faith in himself, saw these things as a temporary crisis. We had those in our lives before. We fight. We move on. But on the other hand, I have to admit that this isolation was in a way good for me at this precise moment of my life. After a long time I could, at last, do things, I had no time for for a long time. The rhythm of life and a career, if you do not take control over them, can lead you far away from yourself. If we were talking about mobile phones, we would call this “reset to factory settings”. That is exactly what happened to me.
I started thinking about my family. I did think about the family before that, but now I thought about it in another way.
My girlfriend Maja and I used to live in Ljubljana. And my eight-year-old daughter Mila spent weekends with us. During the week, Mila lives with my former wife in Lucija. Maja used to work in a pub in Ljubljana, and at that time, I used to work on different projects. Project work means that you have to work like a horse for a few months, 12 to 13 hours a day. Therefore, after the project is finished, you need a few months to recharge. As fate would have it, Maja in I left for a long vacation to Pula in May 2019. We both wanted to escape the tempo of Ljubljana for a while. Pula was also closer to Lucija than Ljubljana, so Mila could spend weekends with us as before. The only difference was we lived by the sea. We rented a beautiful apartment with a balcony and a view of the sea. How magical those morning coffees on the balcony were. I realized that we, people of the continent, travel to the sea twice or thrice a year, to spend a few days living a life that locals of sea-side towns live every day of their lives.
The year 2019 was slowly but surely nearing its end, and so were our savings. The vacation was over. Ljubljana was calling us back. But then we managed to find a way to go back to work without leaving Pula. Maja got a job in a local pub, and thanks to the internet, I was able to do business from there. This is how we greeted the year 2020. By the sea. Still, we were planning to return to Ljubljana by the end of March. I had an important project lined up, the preparations were going on for a long time. And as we were mostly ready to start packing… Instead of the project, “Miss Corona” came. This was the start of the longest vacation of my life. All projects were halted until further notice.
Despite everything, I used to pick up my Mila in Lucija every Friday and brought her back home every Sunday. We all know that crossing national borders was becoming more and more problematic during the quarantine. Was it because of different government decisions in different countries, or because of people who were more and more afraid of the pandemic? Who knows. I am truly grateful to all the officers of the border police, who helped me with advice every week, telling me how to navigate the changing rules so I could cross the border to pick up my daughter. It was ironic that after crossing to Slovenia from Croatia, I only had to drive five kilometers to reach my former wife’s home, so I would cross back to Croatia only fifteen minutes later, but this time with Mila in my car.
Most of the time, Maja kept me company during those drives, until the first “incident” happened. The first problem. A client of mine from Postojna suggested a Friday business meeting there, knowing that I drive to Slovenia because of Mila every weekend. As we were entering Slovenia, a border police officer, who knew me from before, told me: “You can go to Slovenia, because you have a business meeting. But your girlfriend can’t without undergoing quarantine. I suggest you go back to Croatia. Let her sit down for a coffee in Umag, while you go to Slovenia without her.”
And this is what we did. I left Maja in Umag and went back to the border. But as Mila and I finally came to pick Maja up, we discovered all the cafes in Umag were closed. Nothing was open. For two hours and a half, all Maja could do was walk the empty streets of Umag.
I remember another situation. Mila spent a week with us in Pula, as the school was out. During this period, the rules of crossing borders changed. Now I met no requirements to enter Slovenia. Again, the officers of the border police helped me. They allowed me to call my former wife and let her wait ten meters away from the ramp that marked the border crossing, so our Mila could walk across the border alone. It was like a movie. Every few meters, Mila turned and she was looking at me as if she knew we would not spend the next weekend together. And this is what happened. And a weekend after that. And several weekends more. Thank god for Viber and Skype, which allowed us to hear and see each other every day. This significantly mitigated the damage of us not being truly together.
I think these things brought us even closer together.
At least, it was so in my case.
And, of course, being a fighter all my life, I always somehow managed to find a way to see a chance for something good in everything. And then… For instance… You grease every door in the apartment to prevent them from squeaking. You paint the walls. Fix the blinds. Slowly, but surely, cooking became pretty important to us. This was often the only dilemma we had. What will we have for lunch? We both knew how to cook, so it was never a problem for us. We both enjoyed good food, so we strived to prepare every single dish we liked during that time. We also made the dishes my late mother used to make me when I was a child.
This is what happened during quarantine. During the isolation. You simply start thinking differently. We used the quarantine in a completely positive way and grew closer. Later Maja often said, she was happy she spent the quarantine with me. And I am certainly fortunate I spent it with her.
The fact is, Covid-19 posed a much greater danger to older people, which led me to thinking about that, also. I am not an old man, but being 48, I am not a young man neither. But I have two brothers, significantly older than me. They were surely in danger. I started calling them every day. After a long time we started to talk every day. It is sad that it took Covid-19 to make us do so. And for that, I owe it my thanks.
I renewed some old friendships. A WhatsApp evening with Tomo from Belgrade, or Mišo from Zagreb, or Janez from Ljubljana, became a daily routine. Every day we would laugh at different proceedings and decrees of our governments during the pandemic. Not to talk about all the scandals that happened during the medical equipment procurements in all the countries. There is no point to debate this.
But it is certain that Covid-19 also brought the greatest price increases in anti-bacterial protection equipment and agents in history. I remember it was during the first days of the pandemic when every pharmacy ran out of facemasks. A company published an advertisement on the internet, offering 10 of the most common facemasks for 750 kunas (100 euro). Those were crazy times. The days when we would wait in line in front of a store for half an hour. The days, when toilet paper, flour, and yeast were bought by the tons. The days, when you were unable to buy cigarettes or beer at a gas station after 5 pm, but you were able to buy biscuits. Or chocolate.
“Of course, it’s all connected with 5G. In they will inject microchips into our bodies,” some people published on forums, that were sprouting out on the internet more and more. In then, an explosion of various concerts on Youtube… Every one of them carried a message. Almost every singer, band, actor, artist, tried to connect with his fans in this way.
And then, one day, because of an innocent error made when entering the value while paying the bills over the internet, you are left with no mobile phone, no cable TV, and no internet. My neighbor could not cope with that. The afternoon this happened to him, he went through all the sports events of the day in my apartment. He spent the entire afternoon on my phone. My flat was a sort of an oasis for him, he would visit every day for an hour or two. He used to say he simply can not bare to spend a whole day sharing the space with his wife and kids. And, in the meanwhile, he would drink half a liter of liquor, before you can say knife.
This isolation simply didn’t go well for some people. They felt trapped. And I understand them. But for some people, people like me… The rustlng of the sea on the beach every afternoon was enough. An embrace of a beloved was enough. Having coffee on the balcony with her and watching the dawn was enough.
I think I learned something during the quarantine.
I think we have all somehow forgotten how to live and this isolation reminded us of some basic values.
Did you learn anything?
How did you spend the quarantine?
How did it influence you?