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Life between balconies emerges

What happens when life between buildings disappears in the public space? Marcela, a Mexican student in Madrid, reflects on the kind of urban life that emerges during the coronavirus outbreak

Photo by Marcela García-Loza

Certainly, the recent restrictions in cities like Madrid have given space for creativity to flourish in the most unimaginable ways. Madrid is under a state of alarm but the madrileños and temporary residents like me, are doing their part by staying at home. Not a long time has passed since we collectively decided to take this seriously. Whilst drones have been flying along the river to send people back home and supermarkets are filled with desperation and anxiety, others open the door to the stillness and times of reflection.

It’s in this context that the most amazing thing happened, life between balconies emerged. The windows and the lives beyond them have opened to the city, to the community. What was once hidden and only visible through the silhouettes has now transformed in hope and company. In 24 hours, I’ve managed to meet some of the neighbors across the street. It started with gazes. Some words naturally came as an echo to those gazes. Last night, at 10 pm we all came outside to our balconies, the most precious space now, to applaud, shout and make noise with casseroles to unite for the "#sanitaryapplause".

Video by Marcela García-Loza

Indeed, this has given time a different pace, a different understanding. Now more than ever, the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘everyday’ that are often relegated, shape a rich and meaningful experience of an unexpected quarantine in dystopian times. This pause has given me the chance to listen carefully to birds that inhabit the city, to feel the rays of sun in my face, to appreciate the “little” things, which in fact are the foundations of my life.

My mind and heart wish we all learn the huge lesson. A call to retrieve societal values and come back to what makes us human. An opportunity to manifest that love and humility will save us from our own selves.

This story was shared by Marcela García-Loza, a Mexican Urban Studies student in Madrid, Spain.

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