The trip to visit my mother has involved extensive strategic planning. She lives less than 800 km from where I live. It’s the same continent and my car makes the trip on one tank of petrol (which is also the main reason why I can’t have an e-car). The plane ticket costs a ridiculous amount and can be booked at short notice, but I can’t fly. The risk of infection is simply too big, and my mother will soon be 80 years old. That’s why I’m forced to drive, even on long journeys.
My mother wants nothing for Christmas except to be with me. She has never been alone at Christmas in her life. A wish that is almost impossible to fulfil in these days of Corona. The last time I saw my mother was in summer. Even worse, I gave her my word that she could see me once a month and thanks to all the quarantine regulations and travel restrictions, I couldn’t keep my word.
Now I had to work out a plan to isolate myself ahead of time and avoid possible contagion. I wanted to visit her and grant her Christmas wish, but I had to do it in such a way that I would not endanger her. Quite a challenging undertaking. This meant home office, solitary walks or outdoor sports and foregoing many things I like to have – friends, meeting in restaurant, Christmas shopping, visits, massage, going to the cinema. Everything was cancelled. The days became dreary and horribly foggy. With the goal in mind and a lot of discipline, it works. It is tough, very tough, but it works.
I had myself tested twice within a short time. Both times with the result: negative – what a relief. The very first test I had when I visited her in June cost 77 francs, these tests now cost 140 each. I’ll give myself a Corona test for Christmas, I thought. Obviously supply and demand, which drives the prices up.
Then I spent several hours on the internet reading through and understanding all the regulations of the countries relevant to my trip. I had a lot saved, printed out and filled in. I bought food that we could survive in need for several months, packed warm clothes in case I got stuck in a traffic jam somewhere and had to spend the night outside in the car in freezing temperatures. Finally I was ready, the car was loaded and I could leave on Saturday morning.
I was prepared for difficulties of any kind. For a journey that could stretch over several days and where, in a worst-case scenario, I wouldn’t even be able to leave the car.
None of this happened, to my great astonishment. The border crossing between Switzerland and Austria was only manned on the Swiss side, but no one there was interested in me. I overlooked the border crossing between Austria and Germany and the last border crossing was also deserted. The roads were also almost empty, and to my great relief there were no problems at all.
After an incredibly short journey, I was standing in front of my mother’s house and spent a lot of time unloading the car. I was incredibly grateful and relieved. The incredible pressure of the last weeks was gone. I had made it. We’re together and we’ll stay together through Christmas.
Many people don’t have this luck this year. As recently as Friday I was talking about how a flight from the UK to Poland was only £4. By Sunday it was clear that anyone who hadn’t left the UK by Sunday morning (or hadn’t entered) was very unlikely to make it to Christmas at all. Now when I hold my mother’s hand in mine and we tell each other, I can’t help but think of all the stranded, unfortunate ones who will be all alone. It’s going to be a very special Christmas this year. They will not be easy.
So I wish us all that together we can get a grip on it and fulfil the small (but currently unfulfillable) wishes in 2021.
And thank you to everyone who supported me on my journey to see my mother. I appreciated it very much.
Image source: http://unsplash.com