The Corona Chronicles: Week 74: So close and yet so far

I’ve shed a few tears this week and stamped my clogged feet in frustration. You see, I was meant to be in Amsterdam, visiting my Lost Boy. But the Dutch have deemed us Brits too Covidy to be allowed entry. So that’s the last time I’ll be buying tulips!

To be fair, it’s just the government I have an issue with. As is often the case, the actual people have been amazing. When, in January 2020, the Nearly-Beloved booked a posh hotel for our elder son’s graduation, who could’ve predicted the pandemic to come? In the spirit of saving money, it was an early-doors deal with no cancellation policy. But Marianne at The Prinsengracht showed us the true face of humanity and kept on extending our reservation. In the end, however, there are limits.

And at least the Dutch are clear with their instructions. No flashing traffic lights, switching overnight from green to red. Just a steady, unambivalent message about our contagious island. VERY HIGH RISK! Presumably, the Netherlands bases its restrictions on scientific data. Interesting then that proof of double vaccination will allow you in from most high-risk countries… so long as they are in the EU…

Fortunately, we have close relatives in Germany. The pandemic hit them hard economically. They could do with a break. Our Lost Boy could do with seeing some familiar faces. And Marianne facilitated a transfer. The Premier League’s loss is the Bundesliga’s gain. It’s been a bitter-sweet occasion. Whilst I’m glad to see my Lost Boy back in the arms of his nearest and dearest, I’m devastated not to be there myself.

And ‘over there’ shows a remarkable resemblance to ‘over here’, it has to be said. Life is going on, seemingly as pre-pandemic normal. On the UK side, the Family WhatsApp is full of photos of gatherings at weddings, pub meals and hearty walks. In Amsterdam, there are busy street markets, bustling cafes and cultural exhibitions.

‘Why’s he always visiting museums? Getting well old, innit?’ says a perplexed Grunting Teen, rapidly rethinking his planned post-GCSE visit to his brother.

But for now, that trip will have to wait until the powers-that-be deem our two parallel worlds can finally meet. Europe is so close and yet so far. Visitors are being welcomed back but mainly if the country’s economy depends on them. And outside Europe the restrictions are even greater. Unless you have a private jet, a government job, or work for an international sporting organisation, there’s no chance of meeting up with your elderly relatives or emigrated children.

So, whilst the majority of the UK is rebounding from the corona crash-down, those of us with family and friends overseas anxiously watch the daily covid figures. Even if the symptoms are now no worse than a head cold for those vaccinated, each positive result still adds to the statistics that are currently heading in the wrong direction. With schools returning, no doubt cases are set to rise even higher.

So, I’m downgrading my expectations. Some days I wonder if I will ever see my son again. Christmas 2021 is my revised goal. Anything earlier will be like winning the jackpot.

And of course, I have to remember that this is a life style choice. No one forced my Lost Boy to work abroad. He thought he was buying into a globalised new future not a virus-divided world. He can always change his job and return home. After all, we’re crying out for lorry drivers and restaurant workers!

At the end of the day, recent events in Afghanistan remind me that we are so very much the lucky ones. It’s still my Lost Boy’s decision where he lives and works. He may not have control over Covid-19 and he might have to jump through several governmental hoops to get what he wants, but he still has individual control. If nothing else, lockdown has shown us how precious that freedom is. So, I’ll dry those tears, count my blessings and keep my fingers crossed for a family reunion in the not-too-distant future.

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