Hours passing into days into weeks into months. The light on the second floor across the street from us is still on. The contact between the Corona Friend and I has been fading away as our time on our respective terraces has been winding down with Fall and its afternoon chill in the air. Still, at night, when I roll my shades down as I am getting ready to go to bed, her light is still on. I see it and it makes me happy.
Yesterday as I was walking my dog in my endless attempts to have him use the streets to do what he needs to do, I heard her calling me. “Sara, I wanted to let you know I am going to back to Montevideo this weekend.”
“ Oh,” I said, “we wanted to have coffee together.”
“Yes but the bad weather makes it difficult. I will be coming back on weekends sometimes and we can catch up then.”
“How was your stay here?” I asked.
“Heaven,” she answered. “But time to go back to teach. By the way, thank you so much for looking after me. “
“Well, it was a gesture,” I said. “Not much.”
And she went inside her apartment and Poppy and I walked back to our building.
A blanket of sadness descended on me, like the fog that comes over Punta so often suffocating the sky. I am going to miss our distant Corona -19 friendship. It is not that we had the opportunity to exchange much, have conversations, get to know each other, but nevertheless it was a friendship. Or was it an imagined one? What about it put a smile on my face? Was it the physical proximity that made me call it a friendship? With the Corona, we experienced a lot of separation lately, not much human contact and her being around created a feeling of community, the 29th street community. My friends and family are so far away and I cannot see them, only on zoom. When her light was still on, she was near, just across the street, her nearness was so consoling.
Living in the children’s house growing up on the Israeli kibbutz, I remember waiting for hours for the caretaker to come by with her flashlight to reassure me someone was around. The Corona Friend’s light across the street was this same reassurance. In high school, after a long day of classes , working, homework and social activities, I used to pass by my parents’ home and was happy the lights were still on so I could stop by and have a cup of tea with them. One of the most cherished memories growing up, this stolen time, sharing the moment of the day.
Upon graduating from college and when I moved to the desert, I, at first, noticed no lights in the horizon, just desert dunes with a huge moon hanging about. It is light which makes me feel connected, not isolated, not alone. Yes, no light now in her apartment across the street, but she gave me the gift of remembering how light is tied with friendship.
As night is drawing near
No light across the street