By Sara Kaufman
I am a fashion journalist, and the coronavirus outbreak in Italy started during fashion week. You could tell that something awkward was going on even before major brands like Armani and Laura Biagiotti started cancelling their shows. Front rowers were not happy about having to sit so close to each other, and at the end of each show everyone was anxious to leave. No one kissed, despite the fact that it's customary in Italy to greet each other with a peck on each cheek. Little did we know that in a matter of weeks several fashion brands would be reconverting production and making surgical masks and scrubs.
I called my boyfriend and told him there was an ugly vibe. A few minutes later, I got an email from my son's kindergarten: schools were closed. That was the last time I wore lipstick and high heels. Today everyone wears masks. Everyone except me: I cannot manage to find them anywhere. However a friend of mine left one for my mother in her mailbox – one worry off my mind.
In Milan, the rules are crystal-clear: you cannot leave the house. While shopping for food or going to the pharmacy is allowed, chances are you'll get stopped by the police for questioning if you do so. The virus started off in a small town near Lodi – Lombardy, North Italy. Milan was the first big city to go into quarantine. We have now been adopting social distancing for over a month. Incidentally, Lombardy is also Italy's wealthiest and most productive region, but most big companies are now closed. My two-year old son was born preterm. He has some mobility problems and needs to practice walking on a daily basis. Our house is way too small, so every day I take him out for a walk around the block while keeping alert for police cars. His squeals and laughter bring joy to the neighbourhood: people wave at him from their balconies.
My boyfriend and I are both freelancers. We have been trying to file for the 600 euros that the government has issued for freelancers for three days now but, as predicted by everyone in the country, the Social Providence website crashed within one hour. We are both still working, questioning how are're managing to do so while being stuck in a 50sqm apartment with our son and our dog. My boyfriend is an engineer, which basically means our kitchen has turned into a warehouse. He designs and assembles espresso machines while at the same time making international zoom calls across different time zones. All from our kitchen table. I spend most of the day with our child and yes I'm losing it – I mean, there is a reason why I never vouched for being a stay-at-home mum. However, his cheerful mood makes me smile and his needs help me to keep a routine.
In late afternoon my boyfriend takes over and I start working from the bedroom, mostly from my bed. 6pm is bulletin o'clock: the civil defense announces the daily number of new sick, dead, and cured. If the numbers are good someone in our street plays the national anthem. I keep on working until late at night - the silence is deafening.
Life in lockdown. Womankind approached its community to write about life in lockdown around the globe, notably a three-day diary of everyday life under the threat of COVID-19. Womankind is publishing these stories freely to show how the pandemic is affecting women from all over the globe - from New York, to Barcelona to Glastonbury.
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