Hello, dear readers. I know it’s been a while. I’ve been spending a lot of time over at my new pet project Save the Paris Café. But here I am again. And here you are. And here we all are dans la merde, as they say in French.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s also the 8th anniversary of the day I made the offer on my little Paris apartment. That day changed my life forever, and set me on a whole new course. Ironically, today is also the first of 15 days of near total lockdown in France. Now, here I am in that same apartment, but the tone is decidedly more somber, and life is changing in a whole different way.
I’m going to do my best to write every day during this time—what it’s like to be on lockdown, how we’re coping, my thoughts and, yes, maybe sometimes fears. But mostly, I’ll write about what we’re learning about ourselves and each other as we find our way through this uncertainty and fear.
So what’s it like under lockdown? All restaurants and non-essential stores have been closed since Sunday. Starting today, our movements are strongly curtailed. We can’t go out unless we have a specific reason: work, health, shopping and other daily needs, for example. There is a form we fill out from the government site that states who we are and why we are out and about. We have to carry it with us at all times, in case we are stopped by the authorities. Otherwise, we could be fined. It’s a little—no, a lot—like living in Europe during World War II. I have scenes of Casablanca running through my head.
For now, our stores have a decent amount of stock. It’s not dire. Parisians don’t seem as obsessed about toilet paper as Americans. Most of the dairy is gone, the fresh stuff. The French aren’t big on processed foods, so this is going to be harder on them than on Americans. They also don’t know how to stock up, since shopping daily is the cultural norm here. Plus, our refrigerators and apartments are very small. Where do you put it all?
But this American started to quietly and calmly stock up last week, making daily trips to the store, avoiding the chaos I was seeing in the States. I knew this was coming. I have friends in Asia, in Italy. And, you know, I read. Why this came as a surprise to the French is beyond me. They seemed in complete denial even as Italy, our neighbor, was on total lockdown, defying President Macron’s mandates of social distancing, and on Sunday—a lovely sunny springlike day—they gathered in droves in the parks and along the banks of the Seine. The next day news of 800 new cases of the virus forced the government’s hand. And today, here we are. And more restrictions are coming for sure.
How do I know? France’s future is clear based on where Asia and Italy are. And you, my friends in America, should look to us to know your future. Don’t be like the French, blatantly ignoring the request to stay home. Don’t wait until you’re on lockdown, or until you’ve spread this thing far and wide, because you wouldn’t see the reality just across the ocean. We are you, two weeks from now.
That’s partly why I decided to blog again. So you could walk through this with me and have a sense of what it will feel like before it happens. You can plan, and learn through my experiences. And hopefully, I can make it all a little less scary. Think of me as your Sacagawea guiding you through this uncharted time. We’ll do it together.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more. Love, Lisa.
Tip for the day:
When stocking up on goods, please don’t hoard. Don’t worry, supplies will be restocked. We’re good for a while. Buy just enough for a month, in case of quarantine. And I think you all are good on toilet paper. Also, make sure you have enough salt. Don’t underestimate the power of salt and its many uses. For example, gargling with warm salt water is great for a sore throat, should you become sick. (No, it does not kill the virus.)
Stuck at home? May I suggest…