Confinement 101 (A New Course We’re Learning)
I apologize in advance for reprinting a graphic taken from a Facebook post (Americans Retiring in France), but it’s gone so viral, that we no longer have a clue who originated it. It’s a newly drawn “Plan du Métro” during the confinement (which in French is also “confinement” — pronounced “kon-feen-mon” [sort of]), and the map is so, so, so true!
These are our days, going from one spot to another in our tiny abodes here in Paris, hoping for something new and exciting to happen…like discovering a bit of dust to clean or finding something that’s been missing for a while. My tendency to have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is becoming more acute as I clean the stove top just one more time to make it shine (as if it’s not getting the daily use it’s getting now, after being dormant for years…almost).
My closets and drawers have always been a work of art thanks to these OCD organizational skills (or sickness, depending on how you look at it), arranged in perfect order like the bones in the Catacombs. During the confinement, they’re over the top as I have taken to arranging and rearranging them to perfection. (Recently I found plastic boxes with 36 small compartments meant for beads, that worked perfectly to sort my earrings! Oh my…was that ever a blast!)
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Monday new and more rigid restrictions to fight the coronavirus epidemic, limiting outings to no more than one kilometer from home…alone, for a maximum of one hour, and the closure of open-air food markets. The fine for breaking the rules has escalated from 135€ to 375€ and repeaters could get slapped with a fine of 1,500€. It started yesterday and he’s warned us that it could last a few more weeks. The confinement has only been in practice a bit more than a week now and we’re already drawing Métro maps that define it! Thank goodness for a bit of humor to keep us “sane.”
This is certainly not the first time France has been in confinement. The Spanish Flu of 1918 was an influenza pandemic that lasted from January 1918 to December 1920 affecting 500 million people, about 25 percent of the world’s population at the time. In France, where it killed 240,000 people, there were bans on some gatherings, and some public places were closed — but nothing like what we’re experiencing with the current coronavirus lockdown.
A letter purportedly written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1920 while quarantined during the confinement has gone viral on social media, but don’t believe it. It’s really a parody by American author Nick Farriella. But, it’s still worth a read, even if not Fitzgerald’s, but Farriella’s!:
It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that, he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious about his sources.
The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.
You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (aka Nick Farriella)
Yesterday, the sun was bright, the sky was blue and I was desperate to get out. After lunch (at the home of course) I packed a sack with my obligatory “Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire” signed and dated, disinfectant wipes and tissues, a shopping bag, then bundled up with a hat, gloves, and scarf (in lieu of a mask) and headed out for a walk with a stop at the market. A few people were out, but not many. We stayed many feet apart from one another. The Square du Temple was shut tight. The Post Office was shut tight. I was able to stand in the very center of rue du Temple and not see a single car in both directions. How shocking is that?!
At the market, there was a queue to enter, and we each stood miles apart. As one person went out, another one went in. That was reassuring and it was like having the market all to oneself. I stayed a long time making monumental decisions about what foodstuff I’d buy, considering I never used to buy food at all…only cleaning supplies and paper goods! (That’s when I was dining out twice a day, and my friend, that has seriously changed.) The decisions were challenging, to say the least, and bought way more than I can possibly eat or wish to cook.
Annabel Simms, the author of “An Hour From Paris,” who is stuck at home like the rest of us and not out on one of her excursions, managed to take a riverside walk outside of Paris before all this happened. Now that she’s doing the same Métro ride around our apartments like we all are, she’s had time to write it up and as a “timeless pursuit that reminds [her] of the important things in life and makes [her] feel better. Here it is in all its glory for when we can take advantage of her good advice. Meanwhile, you can sign up to receive her blog posts automatically on annabelsimms.com/ and live vicariously through her blog, mine, and all the others about Paris and France.
Here’s to Confinement 101, a new course we’re learning.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. For those of you at home and dreaming of a move to France, or even a property purchase, I’m at home, too, and happy to connect with you on Skype or by phone. As a special offering during this time of self-quarantining and anxiety over our futures, economic or otherwise I am offering special one-hour consultations at the reduced price of 150€ (normally a two-hour minimum for 350€) during our mandatory lockdown. We can talk about a strategy to change and enrich your life by living or investing here. To schedule your time, contact us here.