Capucine’s Letter

Dear Camilla,

I actually wrote 3 or 4 letters already, but it was either too depressing, or too dramatic. There is nothing I really want to say anymore. So i made a drawing for you, I hope you’ll like it. It’s been a while since I used my oil pastels. Actually since China. I thought It was a bit painful to see them as they bring lots of memories back. But I never travel without them, so I thought maybe it is time to enjoy drawing with them again ! And is there a better way to use them again than draw someone that I admire ? So here you are, a vegetal Camilla (In case it doesn’t look like haha) !



It is time to start again. Capucine’s letter arrived just before the end of the tormented Italian lockdown. I am not sure what the feelings of this new beginning are, but I have compared them to what Capucine writes about drawing again with oil pastels after a long time. Capucine did a semester of exchange at my university.

She is studying architecture, and she is close to graduating. She lived her last days in China stressed writing her thesis and anguish by the first closings due to the epidemic in China. She took one of the last direct flights to Paris on January 27th. She left most of her oil pastels abandoned on the big table of the conference room of our international office. That room has been for all the students a studio, the perfect space for birthday parties, a cinema with lousy acoustics, and a fashion workshop for the creations of our dear friend Jon Micheal. Capucine was one of those shy presences sitting around that table, she usually draws in silence, and her calm and sweet presence soon made its way into the hearts of us old students of the China Academy of Art.

I remember saying goodbye to Capucine the morning of her departure. I was still wearing my pajamas, and she was standing in front of my dorm room. Her eyes were full of tears and her heart full of many emotions linked to the extraordinary events of the last few months. She will never forget her experience in China. She fell in love with it. And that early departure was a sudden end of all of it. During the past few months our lives seem got lost in a sentence ended with three dots, suspended.

Starting again is not easy, but that moment always comes when you feel the need to pick up again the pencil that will illustrate the next chapters of your life. For many, quarantine was like leaning on the edge of a cliff to observe the void without knowing what was beyond that moment of complete silence from commitments, relationships, work, and school. Now it feels almost strange going out for a run.

I feel like experiencing an abnormal normality, in which be annoyed with the mask in the hottest hours of the day and greeting friends without hugging them, sometimes seems the real challenge. We keep saying to ourselves, “after all, we have to start living again,” knowing that things will not be the same as before, and in some cases, perhaps not even worse than before. I feel like I am still living with my foot between the door of my house and freedom, hesitant when it comes to going out to a restaurant or walking with a friend, thirsty for hand sanitizer, and disgusted by the waste of plastic in recent months.

France is starting the life after the lock-down too. Capucine spends her days with the family thinking about her thesis and a new start in Paris in a few months, reminding me how nice it will be to start planning, dreaming, and traveling again. I smiled when Capucine wrote to me that she is learning how to drive “who knows, one day I will drive to Italy, and there will be more chances to see each other again.”

Now it is the time to take our lives back. A new beginning? I hope so for the many fighting today.

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