Tears begin to prickle on my cheeks. I try to blink them away. I look at the rheumy eyes reflected back to me in the kitchen window. I don’t recognise myself anymore. The wide-eyed wonder and glimmer of opportunity that danced across my face when we first arrived here in this new country has been worn away with worry lines and a forehead that has been rubbed so many times, it’s now shiny but not in a sparkly kind of way. I’m standing at the sink in our kitchen in Lisbon. It overlooks the back of a hodgepodge of flats, vacant buildings and random patches of wasteland. From the front, beautiful tiled facades cover a multitude of sins and faults. From behind, the buildings are disemboweled, all insides splayed, exposed, on full display in all their messy, muddled glory.
It’s day-goodness-knows-what of lockdown, and the morose mundanity and perpetual fear has infiltrated every sinew. I am stiff and heavy with anxiety. A stone-like weight presses against my forehead and I just want to curl up on the kitchen floor, the only cool part in our otherwise humid and stuffy flat. The frustration and fear starts to pour out uncontrollably in salt laced trails and barely stifled sobs. I am supposed to be making pancakes, yet another bribe, but I can’t bring myself to move. The infinite scroll of news that morning has left me fractious and fearful. This is unlike anything ever before and my brain has reached its capacity... The continual surge of emotions has flicked the trip switch in me today. Muted, still, frozen, I try to get a grip but the sobs keep coming.