I arrived in Barcelona on the first of January. It was glorious to start the new decade here. Great people, delish food, dozens of barrios to explore. The Covid-19 virus was a blip in the news.
By the time I’d found an apartment with my friend Brad and moved in my furniture, Covid-19 was spreading outside China. Brad flew back to San Francisco to get his visa. Before he could return, it was time to for him to isolate there and me to isolate here.
In Barcelona, I’m finishing a novel set during the AIDS epidemic. After a few days in isolation, I found myself having difficulty concentrating. My editor suggested writing a diary, an amusing suggestion since half the chapters of the new novel are journal entries. After a week or so of writing Covid Diary, I was better focused. The diary, though, was starting to feel more like a project. Having searched through AIDS records while writing Dear Mustafa, I realized writing a diary of the Covid-19 pandemic could have value not only for my novel, but also perhaps as a useful record of time in isolation during a pandemic.
Covid-19 is turning everyone’s lives upside down. For me, that’s on top of a new life as a gay expat adjusting to a different country, its language, and its customs. Writing Covid Diary helps me figure out what’s going on. I hope it also helps others who read it.
I’d love your help! If you have tips, questions, ideas, or just want to talk, please reach out. No promises. Like everyone else who’s along for this disastrous ride, I’m doing my best. Pandemics are better with friends, as long as they’re at a distance and wash their hands.
I actually wrote this post on 25 March, the day I moved COVID Diary from Google Docs to this blog. I’ll end with a post I made on Facebook on 15 March 2020:
this is the end of my first day of state imposed self-isolation in barcelona, the end of my 6th day of self-imposed self-isolation … i’ve spoken or chatted online with a dozen friends … everyone is worried, only one was really panicked … it feels like the AIDS crisis on steroids to me … after a week, i think i might be training for a stint driving the international space station solo … it’s not bad, but it’s weird … at eight o’clock this evening, everyone in barcelona went to their windows and terraces and applauded those of us working to stop covid-19 … it was a lovely five minute ovation, neighbors looking across the way at neighbors … the city came together momentarily … covid-19 is revealing who we are … many of us are clinging to our routines … many of us cannot imagine a life in quarantine … many of us need to blame someone … but at eight tonight, it was lovely in barcelona … the applause was a simple gesture … that’s what counts in the coming months, the simple gestures we make that expose our humanity … estamos juntos