As we navigate through the uncertainty of COVID-19, there’s one thing that is certain – this is a time we’ll never forget. The coronavirus has been turning our lives upside down for a number of weeks now. But even if most of us primarily associate it with negative feelings, we can also draw some positives from the whole experience. Staying apart, together is also the current motto at Bikini Berlin. And if we look closer, we can see a huge outpouring of support with many people wanting to lend a helping hand. This includes kind gestures ranging from sewing masks to putting up signs offering neighbourly assistance on lampposts. And it seems that most people are indeed abiding by the #stayathome and social distancing regulations to help quell the spread of the virus.
I’m also sensing a conscious effort to stay connected in our apartment building. Fortunately, none of us living here belong to the most ‘at risk’ groups as we’re all quite young. That’s why I put my Bikini Berlin neighbourly notice up on the lamppost in front of our building, including my mobile number in case anyone living in our street needs help.
As difficult as it is to prevent everyone’s children playing with each other right now, we’re determinedly sticking to the rules. Instead, the kids are sending postcards to their friends on different floors and, together with my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, I made paper Easter bunnies for every neighbour and stuck them in the window of our hallway. Everyone knows everyone here and normally we would be heralding the start of spring with a barbecue in our inner courtyard. But this year we have the Easter bunnies to represent our house community.
Thanks to our house WhatsApp group, we’re still managing to stay in contact and discussing how we can support each other outside of our building too. Book requests are collected and ordered in bulk from our local bookseller of choice, and we are placing group orders for our favourite rice pudding-flavoured ice cream from the ice cream lady around the corner, who delivers it to our door. And we are sewing too: after the appeal from hospitals and care homes for self-made masks, everyone in our building dug out their old bed linen and a particularly talented neighbour has sewn around 100 masks so far.
As an amateur sewing enthusiast who still regularly gets into fights with her sewing machine (!), I had initially decided not to try my own hand at making the masks myself, instead just helping to cut the necessary fabric. But as soon as I spotted the Bikini Berlin DIY sewing instructions, I was tempted to give it a whirl after all. Among all my fabric remnants, I looked for a fabric that could be washed at 60°C and set to work. And as you can see, even a complete beginner like me, who regularly needs YouTube videos to thread her sewing machine, can manage it! In terms of looks, my first makeshift nose and mouth mask is anything but perfect, but it serves its purpose. Whether mask-wearing will become mandatory in this country remains to be seen. But if it does, then at least I’ll be prepared.