This week I have taken up guided meditation for the first time in my life using an app called Calm. I am really enjoying training myself to sharpen my senses and pay close attention to the tiniest sensations or sounds that usually go unappreciated. It is a short, but very welcomed, respite from the day. We do tonight’s session sitting out on the terrace in the warm evening sun. I can hear the faint sounds of an opera floating across the street from a neighbour’s open window and smell the fried onions that are wafting across as some others prepare their dinner.
Although the Spanish community spirit was already worthy of note, I am sure that we will emerge from this period with a different, and probably more significant sense of communal living. Due to the nice weather, people are leaving windows open more and more, giving neighbours glimpses into their lives, treating them to snippets of their conversations with loved ones and exhibiting their daily routines. The lady opposite who does laps of her apartment at 9am on the dot while singing along to her genre of choice… opera. Her neighbour who hangs lazily out of his window for a fag in the midday sun. The guy next door who bangs around at 10am as he does a home workout (I think he is trying to knock through the central wall dividing our flats). The keyboard warrior on the floor below who sits at his screen from dawn to dusk, only taking breaks to erupt into shrieks of laughter. And the saxophonist two flats down who practices every day around 6pm.
If you want to let some much-needed fresh air into your living space, you must accept that there is minimal privacy when your live in such close proximity to your neighbours. While in times gone by, we might have got frustrated by these moments that rudely interrupt our oh so precious peace, they have now become a part of our day that never fails to put a smile on our faces. Instead of creating neighbourly friction, as would so often be the case, it is reassuring to see and hear your immediate community coping with the lockdown in their own particular ways. People seem to have become more patient and accepting of others, taking time out of their day to smile and wave at neighbours and acknowledging the communal sacrifice made by all.
After the daily clap, a neighbour blasts Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing out loud on his speakers and some people are dancing on their small balconies. It is the start of the Spanish bank holiday weekend tonight and although this one will be spent like none that have gone before, people are in the mood for a well-deserved break from their virtual working lives that have already become so normalised.