The heart of Barcelona has always beaten in her streets: full of life, vibrant and always there to seduce you into new adventures. A city that never sleeps, except for now. The city is on pause and so is her heart.
I moved from Amsterdam to Barcelona 1 year ago and a month has passed since the city was unwillingly put to sleep. Wandering out of my window, I am looking at the muted streets. Every hour of the day feels like an early Sunday morning: no people commuting to work, no tourist sipping their sangria on a terrace, no couples strolling in the Mediterranean sun. The streets look the same as yesterday, with only the pigeons flying around freely.
Big brother is watching you
Waiting for something to happen I see a police car driving by, the third one of this morning. Silently the car scrolls past the nearby square, ensuring that nobody is outside enjoying the morning sun, like a mother grounding her child for staying out too late the night before. “It looks like we’re living in a small village!” my neighbour says joking, hanging out of her window in the search for social interaction. Barcelona turned quiet, distant from the beating heart it was. Patiently waiting to blossom again. Patiently waiting, just like us.
I am trying to keep my Spanish dream alive; my hallway now features as La Rambla and my fridge is the compensation of my favourite tapas bar.
Learning to adapt
In a place where life revolves outside, year-round. No busy streets, no beating heart. We are free, but imprisoned at the same time, is a hard feeling to digest – desperately wanting to give the city back her life, and to get back ours. I am learning to adjust my routines, making the best of this time inside these concrete walls. The introvert in me loves the sea of time it provides; enjoying the peacefulness, dusting off books and finding myself back on the yoga mat. However, other days, I am grasping for a walk to the grocery store: the only legal reason to visit the good old outside world. Here the top sold product this month is not toilet paper but cerveza and olivas, proudly showing that the Spanish heart is still beating behind closed doors.
Hey, it’s OK
As with any situation, this is one we can learn from. When this new normal started we seemed to be in a universal state of wanting to finally do what we have been postponing for months, even years. Social media feeds filled with workouts, creative galore and friends working hard on their next big thing.
But I am here to tell you it is OK if you aren’t constantly productive during isolation. The lesson to learn is to find ease within the current possibilities, to find positivity in a difficult time. And -maybe I have watched too many Disney movies during this confinement- I truly believe that the best out there is already within ourselves, and that is precisely what makes the collective heart beat.
And remember, even though we have to give up our physical freedom, we live in the privilege of being able to do so. Having a house protecting us and a safe place to calm our worries is more than many have. Find the appreciation, enjoy when you can and do not feel guilty when you cannot. We will patiently wait for the streets to come alive again, for the city to wake up from her slumber: for the heart of Barcelona to beat again, even stronger than before.
From my rooftop in Barcelona,
*Eva is one of our guest editors that currently lives in Barcelona. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up.