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on one late afternoon in antibes, france during the covid-19 pandemic

Maybe I should have chosen another film. I had watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High the other night. I had forgotten the opening scenes.

I am confined to my apartment in Antibes, France, because of the Covid-19 virus. I must stay one to two meters from others. Some stores have tape on the floor to help me mark the distance. I can go out for one hour for exercise, and if I want to buy food I need to note the time on the attestation when I leave the apartment.

The opening scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High startled me. It takes place at the Ridgemont Mall. The mall is crowded; a mob of people are constantly jostling one another. It is noisy with kids. So many scenes, including in the halls of the high school, feel claustrophobic. The last dance of the year, occurring at the end of the movie, is wild and crazy, framing the movie, reminding us of the opening scenes at the mall, with many students and teachers crammed into a tight space. Having fun.

During my first walk one morning, I pointed to a sign with the word, “restaurant.” I explained to my companion, who was a discreet distance away, “This is called a restaurant. People used to come to places like this, sit down, and someone would bring food. It was a marvelous idea.”  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

While walking, I see another person coming toward me. We keep away from one another like two magnets with opposite polarities. We could never get close. Sometimes we step into the street.

In the afternoon, later, the silence in the streets is eerie. No movement can be seen except for a seagull that might silently float by or the waves of Mediterranean Sea might quickly clash against the wall, but they are high, the ramparts, and even those waves might go unheard.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Again, I think of a movie and of its opening scenes. It is 28 Days Later. Jim awakes from a coma in a deserted hospital. Twenty-eight days earlier a deadly, contagious virus was unleashed on the world. Now London is empty and silent.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

At 20h the clock on the church begins to chime the hour. My neighbors and I open our windows, and we begin to clap, like in Italy where it began, applauding the nurses and doctors and care givers who are risking their health daily, thanking them.

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