December 10, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Message to a friend

By |2020-05-14T11:55:23+02:00May 12th, 2020|"In Cucina"|
Sadness can be hard to cut through. Detail from a photo by Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), who worked in Rome.

’m sorry. I cannot write about cooking or food right now, let alone about the pleasures of Rome. It’s not in me and it wouldn’t reflect what many people call “the reality on the ground.”

I decided instead to share a note I sent to a friend who wrote to me recently asking how I’d been holding up in the city over the last couple of months. It won’t qualify as happy reading, but it’s at least truthful, and some of you may understand the mood and the circumstances that underlie it.

Hello my dear,

The first four or five weeks of the lockdown flew by. We sheltered in place and kept fear at bay. I hardly left the house.

Then, on April 21, I lost a friend to COVID-19. A dear, young, beloved friend. Now, I am a caged animal, yet fearful and anxious. My heart breaks for the “ingiustizia,” the injustice, of it all.

I’m sad that my son has lost a year of “scuola media” (middle school) and that his rite-of- passage exam for the next stage in his education will be done via a computer monitor. He is of course not alone in facing this massive life change.

I’m sad that going back to school will never be the same. I’m sad that the social life of these kids – already put at risk by electronics and internet – is now zero.

I’m worried because my mom is having tests done and we don’t have the full results yet. I worry that she becomes careless and risks contracting the virus.

I’m sad that I haven’t hugged her since March 9th.

I’m angry that the quarantine, loneliness, a dead dog made another dear friend go back to alcoholism, and worse. He’s being very open and cavalier about it, maintaining he can easily detox. I am in shock, mostly that alcohol and drugs, which for whatever reason I consider very much a 1980s fad, is still in shouting distance when life goes sour, and it has for many.

So that’s a long answer to your request to know how I am. I really don’t have the energy to say much more than this. People all over the world are dealing with these times as best they can.

I would like to say that I am hopeful but I just can’t. Sadness has a way of putting hope in the deep recesses of your mind. It’s just not primary. And when your world changes there’s ample time to dwell.

That’s it for my end, at least for now. I hope you understand.


About the Author:

Eleonora Baldwin lives in Rome dividing her time between food and lifestyle writing, hosting prime-time TV shows, and designing Italian culinary adventures. She is the author of popular blogs Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino and Casa Mia Italy Food & Wine.