Sunday April 5, 2020
Awake, I lie still taking in this new day. So quiet. Not a car, radiator, reveler, neighbor, contractor, car alarm or crow. Not even a fly, or a child in the playground. No one to partake in the awesome fun of sitting at the top of the long polished stainless steel slide—feet first, legs stretched forward—ready to go, but before pushing off the little legs, scissor kick allowing the heels to bang repeatedly against the long metal sounding board /slide (as fast and as hard as possible). I have never done it but it has to be a lot of fun and long before the virus arrived it was an extremely contagious activity. That very loud, sometimes irritating sound performed by one child after another has become a memory.
I hear my neighbor to the south, which makes me realize that the tenants above me have fled. Some absences are more notable than others. Some can be enjoyed while others cannot be endured.
The deep quiet, near silence, of these odd days, does not extend indefinitely. When broken it is always by a distinct sound that can be identified, if not enjoyed. The quality of singular sound is an entirely new experience to have in this place. It reminds me of bedtime as a youth at what always seemed like too early an hour; lights out, I lay in bed, identifying every voice and every sound made by those who did not seem to have a bedtime. As months turned to years I was able to identify each pot, pan and lid, which door closed, opened or squeaked.
Yesterday afternoon, while out for a run, recent hints that something on the streets had changed was confirmed. Eye contact, if not back to normal, had significantly changed from two or three days ago, I met eyes with several people. Completely changed. The “why” has not come to me. I am not sure who else speaks this language, but not everything needs to be explained or understood.
A 1988 essay on eye contact and its absence in Venice can be found here.