As usual, by Josep Maria Pou

Fantastic feeling, that of releasing a new time. I go out into the street and breathe. I take air through my nose, without a filter, and release it through my mouth, without a barrier. The air, finally, free. At your own pace. I start to walk. The eyes look curious, no longer the knowing look of the other, but the open smile, essential. Slight disappointment: the morning is not as bright as I expected. And I don’t mean the sun, which still looks shy at that time. I’m talking about the faces that I come across. Some – quite a few more than I expected – still wear masks. I doubt. Am I wrong? Isn’t today “D-day, H-hour”? I have not yet read the morning press (to which I am going, on the way to the newsstand), but I remember well the images I saw last night on television: a group of jubilant people celebrating with cava, in the middle of the street, the twelve chimes, as if it were another New Year’s Eve, and throwing into the air, with the same impetus, cheers and masks. I reaffirm myself, then, that it is Saturday the 26th and it is 9 in the morning.

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I’m going to cross the street and the traffic light forbids me. I agree, in the wait that goes from red to green, with three other people. The three with masks, still. I don’t know whether to apologize or, on the contrary, to look arrogant. I just smile, understanding, and draw a very fine, veiled, barely perceptible, question mark with a frown. I look left and right. Quick calculation: we did not get to the meter and a half of distance. What I do? I break away from the group, four steps back, away from the curb. An alpha male walking a horse-sized dog stands next to me. Athlete, I tell myself. It is, high and wide, a walking soccer goal. And he wears a mask. He doesn’t look at me. He does not care about me. The same does not seem to be the case with the dog. This one does look at me, impertinent. He sniffs me. And he lets out a bark that looks like a whinny, as if speaking through his master’s mouth. I think the time has come. I give up. I reach into the back pocket of my pants and pull out the mask. I put it on, with the uncomfortable feeling of someone giving up. Is that what they call “ambient pressure”?

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It happened like that, as I tell it. Then, with the newspapers already in hand and sitting in front of breakfast on my usual terrace, I think back and berate myself. Don’t be so naive, I tell myself. Or so silly. That changes are never like this so suddenly, I tell myself. That is the custom, of course. The routine, of course. And distrust continues, of course. I conclude, therefore, that although it did not take us two days to wear (reluctantly and reluctantly, let us not forget) the masks to our face, they will have to spend many more hours, days, months, years?, Before putting them away forever. and walk quietly with bare faces. Is that bad? Of course not. It will be enough to get used to living with them. And to always carry them with you. Like the mobile, I tell myself. Like the clock. Like the bag or the wallet. Like restlessness. Like the uncertainty and restlessness. Like hope. Like fear.


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