«There is no one out on the street» is the phrase that my mother repeats from the window. In the heart of old Ourense where she lives, nothing remains of that constant noise that accompanied us all our lives. And even though I can’t say that we miss the most aggressive part of that clamor (the people who, in the early hours of the morning, and completely drunk, ended up fighting in the street), the truth is that one misses the life and activity of a neighborhood that always was and is, the wine district.
Many are the sectors that are suffering plenty during this pandemic. But the situation of the hostelry industry is probably the most evident example of the reality in which we currently live: continuous radical changes that leave small and big businesses without hope of survival. The worst part is that when the hostelry sector shuts down, so do many other things. Also shutting down is a way of life that is not always collaborative.
I suppose that it is because I grew up surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants, but the number of lonely people who made their lives in these spaces has always caught my attention. In some way, these places were a balm for loneliness, at least during the day, and it is difficult for me to imagine that infinite loneliness felt by those who sat for hours at the bar, or at the small table of a particular cafe, just to watch people walk by, without socializing.
The pandemic is hard enough without blaming anyone. We are the ones who gather, and how we gather is our responsibility. But this exceptional situation through which we are living affects all those closed spaces in the same way, and if it is difficult enough to survive at this time, it must be near impossible to do it when they make you feel blameable…