This post is a different type of content than what you’re all used to from me, but I hope you enjoy it as well.
I’ve been on a wild ride since I last wrote here. When I wrote my last post, I was still in Italy. I’m happy to tell you that I made it home to Puerto Rico safe and sound with help from my loving family, to whom I’ll be forever grateful, and I’ve been here for a little over a month.
Getting out of Italy felt like a mission straight out of a dystopian film for me. There were several steps I needed to take to make it back across the Atlantic, back to my family. First I needed to return to Milan from Vicenza, where I was being generously hosted by my dear friend’s family. I had stayed with them for 22 days when I set out to take the train back to Milan. The day for me to leave came, and after saying my goodbyes, I headed to the train station. No trains were heading back to the city, how naïve of me, it was a Sunday during the national lockdown. So, back to my friend’s house I went and tried again the next day. On the Monday, I managed to get a train back to Milan, after handing an official declaration to the police that I was headed back to my place of residence. What felt like a lifetime later, I arrived to the Central train station in Milan, where I had to get my temperature taken and give the same document again, but this time to men that were dressed in military uniforms. Luckily, I had an email with the booking reservation of my flights home, because the first military guy told me I had to get on the train back to Vicenza…WHAT?! I pleaded with them and showed them my flights, explained my situation, and finally they let me cross the “border” to the city. “Mi raccomando, non uscire da casa in questi giorni, esce solo per andare in aeroporto” he said, Make sure you don’t leave your house during these days, leave only to go to the airport.” Step one, completed.
After getting to the flat safely, I spent a few days in Milan packing my belongings and getting ready for step two, the hardest one, of my journey back home. The day came for me to take my flights that would get me across the Atlantic and closer to home. Naturally, I barely slept with the anticipation and anxiety this caused. I got in the taxi and headed to the airport, had trouble checking in to my flights for an hour, and then finally could go get in line for security. Time to fill yet another official declaration to give to the police at the airport before I could even pass security. When it was my turn to give my form in, I got what felt like the Spanish Inquisition:
“Where are you headed?”
“To my country, my place of residence”
“Why are you in Milan?”
“For work, I work at La Scala.”
“But if you work here in Milan, that means you’re a resident here…where’s your proof of residence, and how come you’re leaving?”
Here I think I started sweating, I had my coat on, scarf, mask and gloves plus I was getting nervous…I said: “Because I did my residence permit literally the Friday before the whole country closed, so I haven’t been notified that it is ready. I’m going home to Puerto Rico, I no longer have a job until the theatre opens again, and I’ll wait in my country until then.”
The police officers passed my passport around inspecting it like if they had just discovered I was an undercover Russian spy, and after all of them had a chance of inspecting it, they returned it to me and said: “Ok, go on then.”
Wait, had I just had the Italian police almost not let me leave the country?! To go back to MY country?! I was shocked, but also very, very grateful that I could go to the gate and wait for the first out of 4 flights that awaited me that long 2nd of April.
The first flight was from Milan to Rome, then I had to get the rest of my boarding passes in Rome, which meant I had to go through the whole security process again, with the declaration and all. This time everything went smoothly so I headed to my flight from Rome to New York. I never thought I’d be so happy to be on United States soil, but there I was, feeling somewhat relieved. There was a three hour layover in New York, then New York to Atlanta, and finally Atlanta to Orlando. I had left Milan on the 2nd of April and I arrived to Orlando on the 2nd of April, it honestly felt like the longest day ever. I checked in to the hotel where I spent the night getting ready for the last flight the next day. Finally it was time for step 3: the fifth and last flight from Orlando to Puerto Rico, I was elated!
I landed safely in Puerto Rico, and when I was in line to get my information and my temperature taken, I obviously got asked my name…
Then the military officer said “You have to come with me”
Oh god, what now???
He was very nice and told me not to worry they just needed to inquire more seeing as I had just come from MILAN.
So I got taken to another part of the airport where I was interrogated, and got told to wait a while. An hour later I was tested and I could finally leave the airport, where my mom was waiting for me. This was by far one of the happiest moments of my life, seeing my mom and dad again. I wasn’t able to hug them, but seeing them both gave my heart the tranquility that you only feel when you’re at home.
I had to quarantine yet again for two weeks in a lovely flat in Old San Juan. I kept myself busy doing ballet, pilates, gyrotonics and yoga classes, dancing to my playlists, watching Netflix, reading and, of course, eating. My parents live nearby to the flat, so my they would spoil me bringing me the food they had cooked for dinner, very lucky me. Sometime during the second week, I got news that my test results were negative, I didn’t doubt that, but knowing for sure was a relief. When the two weeks were up, I could go home and be with my parents, where I have been for the past 4 weeks.
All in all, I’ve been officially socially distancing for 8 weeks now, but off work for 10. The world is a completely different place now and, in some way, this distancing has brought us all together as we all crave some human interaction. I hope we come out of this pandemic to a more beautiful world, where human beings are more conscious and grateful for everything this planet gives us, and all of the kindness that exists within each of us. I hope this will change the world for the better, because I’m very afraid of what will happen if each and every single one of us don’t improve as people when we come out on the other side of this. I hope we all gain empathy, solidarity, humility, and most of all love for ourselves and for all living beings that share this planet with us, since we are witnessing first hand the tragedy that ensues when we don’t. The time to change has come, and it is NOW.
Until next time,