Covid Bittersweet Friend

Two years ago almost about this time, I was sitting in the plane from Buenos Aires to Zurich, wearing a mask, fully confused, almost scared and hoping to reach “home” safely. I had been in Buenos Aires only for three days before I got on that plane. My shortest stay there ever. That was when Covid had just broken out. Little did we know about what was to come during the next two years. I just remember that I had been so much looking forward to this trip and when I had finally got there nothing was like what I had been dreaming of. Eventually, I had decided to take one of the last planes back to Europe just before the world closed its doors to travellers. I had barely made it and I remember it had hurt, because at that time Buenos Aires was home and Zurich was where I had my residence address and my work.

Much has changed since then.

During the first months of Covid, when most people were upset about not being able to travel, being stuck at home, not being able to socialize, all I felt was relief. I was secretly celebrating the fact that I did not have to do this or do that, or be here, be there, see this person or that…I had to be at home, alone and that’s it. This is one of the most beautiful presents one can receive as an introverted and hyper-sensitive-person (HSP). Full resignation from the world and that is mandatory. Wonderful.

That is when Zurich started becoming my home. I started walking in its deserted streets, enjoying all the natural beauties the city offers, exploring my neighbourhood finally after 3 years, appreciating its people with their quiet and respectful reservation. I began to understand how lucky I was. I was living in a beautiful city, safe and secure, everything works, and everything at my fingertips even during a pandemic.

Before Covid, I had been restless. I had this urge to go away, run away I must say, and keep myself busy with all the traveling and planning I had caused myself. Needless to say, I was working day and night during the week and then running away on the weekend. What I was actually doing though was trying to run away from myself. Then Covid came around said stop! I embraced it.

Covid became my friend, and again secretly, I did not want it to go away too quickly. I did not want the world to wake up and force me to my earlier life. I was afraid I would not be able to keep what I had found now if the world outside intruded again.

I started thinking about my life a little bit like in a movie strip. Before this restlessness invaded me, my life was a classical, a routine life almost. I was married, we had a beautiful apartment, we lived in a very nice part of Munich, had friends and did things with them. I cooked, we had movie evenings, had dinners at home and outside. We travelled almost only to see our families. Then I divorced, my life fell apart and I didn’t know where I belonged.

More than a few years after that my friend Covid came around and showed me that I belong to Zurich. Thanks to it, I now have a nice home, I made it myself. I found friends, I have a job, actually a new job, which I really like. I started going to movie theatres again, went back to gym, and I travel much less. I am happy and grateful.

Still, Covid has not been a good friend to me only. On the contrary. I don’t want to call the word enemy, but it hurt me a lot. Cancer took away my beautiful, precious aunt and I couldn’t hold her hand, I couldn’t wave her goodbye. All I was left with was a phone call from my crying mother that she was no longer with us. It still hurts. A lot.

Covid also put me into one of the most difficult inner-conflicts for which there is no resolution. I don’t think there will ever be. I was not able to see my mother for more than a year because I was too afraid to catch the virus on the way to her and then to infect my own mother to death. At same time, I was also terribly afraid to re-live the story of my aunt with my mom. What if she passed away before I even had the chance to see her one last time?

It was extremely difficult for her too. I am her only daughter. She couldn’t be with me when she most needed me. She was imprisoned in her little room at the residence she lived and she was being punished everday for being a “senior citizen” by the Turkish government. As she was no longer contributing to the economy, she was banned from going outside with the polishing words “most vulnerable must be most protected”. Imagine what happens to you if you are stuck in your room with no human contact except for the personnel only that brings food to your door, for many months.

Now two years after that plane trip, I look and I see that we survived. My aunt didn’t. Still, she is with me everyday, I wear her perfume. My mom will come and visit me in Zurich in my new beautiful apartment in a few weeks. Once again, we managed to get her a visa. She can come 3 years long and as often as she likes. She used to come to Munich in the same way, now it is Zurich. I will stay here, and believe me or not, I am even planning to retire here. I started having these thoughts about my future elderly life, which make me happy instead of sad. I am now dreaming of my own place, who knows if that will happen…

Thanks to my bittersweet friend Covid, I grew up, again. I arrived. At myself.

It seems like we are telling goodbye to Covid. I hope. I am not afraid. Everything has its time. The last two years belonged to Covid, time to leave now. I am excited about the future, at home. Here in Zurich.

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