The Emirates plane is full. We are about to take off in Dubai heading for Schiphol. Dutch people repatriating. Relief, lots of Dutch chatter and in my case worry about going home. I’ll be in an Airbnb in Haarlem. I want to self isolate two weeks. I overhear the row behind me where a young woman talks about also staying in an Airbnb, the place of a friend of hers. It makes me think that maybe quite a few Dutch people in this plane don’t live in Holland. Being Dutch citizen certainly doesn’t mean you are a resident. Why wait till the last moment before returning to the Netherlands? Because under normal circumstances you are not meant to be in The Netherlands right here and now. For me the return to the Netherlands is more of a rupture then simply switching to working from home and having to be with your children 24/7. I am resident in three places. Yet I don’t have a home. It’s making me cry. At last am I proud to be Dutch at all? During my whole life that was staged in quite a few different countries as if I performed being an artist on her grand World Tour, The Netherlands has always been eventually my final destination, my last resort, the place I’d return to, oversaturated mostly, under nourished sometimes and financially broke each time. It was without question The Netherlands I’d run to for shelter. Until today. Today I don’t know. All I know today, is that I don’t know. I feel different. It started in Singapore. Where I spent a week with the love of my life. In Singapore they know. The spread of the Corona virus is under control. What am I doing? Returning to The Netherlands? My daughters are now both in the Netherlands. They stay with their father. Which is temporarily okay. But how long is now? One week or two, or maybe half a year? I’ve had paid my invoice for the last work I did in October 2019. The very seasonal based economy of the small mainly tourism related business at my little Maltese isle called Gozo, made me decide in October/November to give up on Malta. I did follow a few threads possibly leading to employment over the winter. But I knew it wasn’t going to turn the tables. A month in New Zealand with the love of my life, that was going to be the turning point in our recent Maltese history. Until quite unexpectedly the prospect of a very sheltered, secured and manageable assignment in the UK unfolded itself. Two weeks prior to leaving for New Zealand I landed a job in the UK. At least I thought so. Life is as weird as it can be boring or oppressive and New Zealand is simply great. It’s where the love of my life and me reconnect. It’s where kangoeroes jump about and my daughters can choose to live. This time Brian and I reconnect on a very deep level, yet happy. Finally and at last there’s a sense of future, for us together and I find myself starting to believe in living apart together. There’s many dates Brian books for us to see each other throughout 2020 in order to spend valuable time together. What else is a relationship if it ain’t about being together? I don’t know. Unfortunately the communications with the UK are not moving forward. It’s Christmas, it goes to New Year’s and slides slowly into January. When I return to Europe the 20ish of January, I still don’t know where I am at. I stay with my dad. Waiting for news. I realize I simply don’t know what’s going to happen. And when my brother out of the kindness of his heart tells me that I am ‘always’ welcome to come and stay at his place downtown Barcelona, I immediately book one way tickets for my youngest daughter and me. My brother is pretty surprised and sceptical about having us over. The European Union gives a nice sense of false Euro citizenship. In Malta who joined the EU in 2009 it takes over three months to get a fellow Euro citizen of ten years old to be granted permission to attend primary school. Fortunately in Spain it only takes three weeks. However a legal way to obtain a NIE (Spanish tax number required for anyone doing anything else in Spain then spending holiday money) simply doesn’t exist. The Dutch Embassy obviously is not aware of this and advises her fellow Dutch nationals to call the Spanish Ministerie of Internal Affairs. As if it’s the local patisserie dying to sell you a birthday cake. I’ve lived in Spain before. Both my brother and sister live in Spain. I speak Spanish and I’ve got a place to live. Does the possibility to make it in Spain become a reality? Barely. And then exactly after the first 13 days during which my daughter receives her math and English assignments in Catalan (not in Spanish), the lovely primary school in the Zoo of Parc de Cuitadella, downtown Barcelona closes it’s doors. Bye bye kangeroos, zebras and meerkats; welcome Corona. After a week we enter a new virtual reality. The school has now turned into a far away unknown realm where both she and I don’t know the language, the class mates nor the jokes. Saying hello to the kangeroos at 9 am in the morning quickly fades away into the shadows of completely empty European cities. I mean ghost towns. Where people are prey to mental health issues, lots of laughter and frantic hoarding.
I am flying high. What I know is that I don’t know. I don’t know nothing. So I turn on the news. CNN, EuroNews and BBC broadcastings in the plane make me cry. The death toll in Italy today surpasses China’s. What about one of my best Dutch friends, an Italian resident since twenty years? She self isolates with her two daughters, her Dutch partner, five dogs and a parrot. The rolling Toscan hills around her make her condition almost desirable is what you’d think. Her father back in The Netherlands died two days ago. There hasn’t even been talks about her attending to her mother, let alone a funeral. All I know is that I don’t know. I am flying high and I don’t know if my other close friend’s parents and siblings in Italy where she is from, will survive. 60 million Italians versus 1.4 billion Chinese people. But more Italians then Chinese have died from Corona.
In Spain the speed of spreading the virus now has overtaken the speed in China at it’s peak and also the speed in which the virus spreads in Italy. Both my sister and my brother live in Spain. All I know is that I don’t know. I am flying high. I am better informed then most. I haven’t been panicking, feeling safe in Singapore. It’s just now, upon returning to a place that I am supposed to call home, that I realize I don’t know. For a long time to come, I will not know. I prefer to stay high. My love is in Australia, my car and a bed are in Barcelona, my 85 old dad is in The Netherlands, where both my daughters are with their father, the deposit of my last rental house is still in Malta.
Let me know what you know. I am dying to hear things. Let knowledge spread. Let peace of mind prevail. Let’s all just begin to accumulate knowledge about what the fuck is going on.