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Watch, pause, repeat.

Watch, pause, repeat. This third lockdown feels like déjà vu and I wonder if there will be a fourth or a fifth. I often pause and look back at what I’ve been doing and how my life has changed. Pre-pandemic, I felt I had a very active life with lots of things on the go, now I feel that my life is suspended in time, everything is evolving rapidly yet my life is steady and calm. Watch, pause, repeat becomes wake up, work, sleep. Is it steady and calm, though? 

If I look deeper, there have been incredible changes in my life. A year ago, I had just moved out from our rental place as my partner and I could no longer afford the rental increases. To stay within our budget, we had to compromise and ended up moving into a one-bedroom apartment. I would define myself a minimalist, yet the place was so short on storage space that we had to keep our bikes and surf boards in our bedroom. Despite the tripping hazards wherever you could set foot on, I managed to fit a yoga mat between the table (now against a wall) and the bathroom and exercise daily – when they say that some things are impossible… The first move had taken place during the first lockdown, the second happened during the second lockdown, only a few days before snow started to fall. I am still grateful that the sky could hold on. In the hurry of loading our truck and leaving on time for the out-inspection, I threw a small bag with a change of clothing under a pile of boxes. I found it 3 days after we unloaded our belongings. Yes, I spent a few days handwashing what I needed and hanging it to dry overnight. Buying during a pandemic on a tight budget and miraculously escaping bidding wars meant that our place needed a wee more than ‘cosmetic love’. It was cold, dirty and, in some spots, falling apart. As first-home buyers, we had no clue where to start. Watch, pause, repeat became call contractors, ask for quotes, decide how to move next. Painting, heat pumps, windows, deck, yard and all those small things I had no idea that existed before buying were all of a sudden put on our plate: “I wish papà and mamma were here, they’d know how to get about with this avalanche of responsibilities”. 

Somehow, we made it through Christmas and its long Winter Break, which for once, was so relaxing. Christmas is something that I long for as it coincides with travelling to Italy and reconnecting with my family and friends. It’s the time of the year when I soak in the warmth of gentle Italian winters, eat foods that I had forgotten existed and catch up with childhood friends. It’s also something that I dread, for at the end of it, I break my parents’ heart and leave again. I spend those 15 hours on the plane back to my Canadian home with a knot in my stomach and sleep for an entire day as soon as I crash on my bed. Recovering from the separation in the middle of the winter is hard, but, thankfully, long winter days have wonderful snowfalls and getting outside in a Winter Wonderland is always helpful. This Christmas was precious: I celebrated with a few friends, overslept and exercised. There was no jet leg, no separation and no broken hearts. 

And so, a third lockdown has come. Watch, pause, repeat … or maybe not? Perhaps this time is the last time? As more and more people get their doses of vaccines there is hope that COVID-19 won’t be that strong next time it hits us, and we’ll soon head out of the woods. For those who fight to have shelter, for those who have lost their jobs, for those who have no idea when they will be able to hug their families again and for the world, things will, eventually, turn for the better. 

Ilaria Pivi

Coordinator, Housing and Arrival Services


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