The day of emancipation has arrived. To prevent everyone flooding outside simultaneously and bounding joyfully through the streets arm in arm like some kind of Sound of Music dance – obviously a deserved way to celebrate such awaited freedom – the government have imposed ‘slots’ when different groups of the population can leave the house. Most of us are allowed out 6am-10am or 8pm-11pm while the rest of the day is reserved for the elderly and kids. Like a child at Christmas I could barely sleep last night, genuinely quite excited about my long-overdue adventure down to my flat in Lavapies to grab a few things that I needed.
Stepping out this morning into Madrid’s streets, buzzing with activity once again, was a much-welcomed sensory overload after the monotony of the last seven weeks. The centre was awash with the neon of cyclists and runners in their Lycra getups, burning off the restlessness and frustration of the quarantine in an impressive blur of vivid colours. The recently blossomed trees stood out boldly against the eternal blue skies in a broad array of greenish hues. As if to welcome Madrileños back, the early morning sun shone softly, evaporating the soapy water left behind by a cleaning truck doing its morning round. The streets smelt fresh and new. Ambling back to my flat in the south of the city in no rush at all, I gorged on the scent of a city awakening from a deep slumber. The aromas of brewing coffee and freshly cooked bread were breathing life into the streets once again.
This morning was a feeling of elation that I’m sure none of us early birds will forget; sharing smiles with strangers as a sign of mutual respect for the hardships of the last seven weeks; feeling the warmth of the day and the start of a new chapter tingling on the skin. There was a bright sense of optimism here that you could feel oozing out of everyone. This was a very well-deserved break and my god was it worth waiting for.