The New AB Normal

The New AB Normal

Saturday afternoon in Venice, my Covid-19 retreat. The heat comes in from all the windows despite it is already autumn. Instagram reminds me that last year I was boarding to Singapore and Sydney, two important dates in my scheduled gigs around the world. The slides were ready, rehearsal of the speech done hundreds of times but still felt it could be improved. New stages, new public, new emotions. Despite I am not a newbie, it always feels like the first time.
Rushing to the airport, queuing up for passport control, waiting in the lounge, boarding, and, finally, turning off my smartphone. Shutting off from the internet for 15~20 hours it’s almost ritual. It’s a sign that I am “on-air”: literally.
How much I miss traveling.

You know, that feeling just before leaving, especially towards a new business opportunity?

The weight on my stomach, having to choose the hotel, keep track of all the reservations, decide what to do, who to meet, which days to leave free, and which to fill. The trip begins long before the actual departure, months of preparation ahead: this is true, of course, only if you are the one to organize it - and this essential to have a complete agenda full of opportunities and it makes the difference between a business (oriented) traveler rather than a simply traveling for business.

You actually don't need to go far, just choose a place you've never seen, or a place you want to know better. Even just the possibility of doing it makes me feel lighter, I begin to experience that feeling of emptiness again, that desire to walk, to discover, to taste, to convert. Yes, because, in the end, it’s all a matter of “conversion”: turning an acquaintance into a business partner.

It is the thing that I missed the most during the pandemic.

Not so much not being able to travel, as not being able to think about travel. Not knowing when it would all end, not being able to understand how and when we could move again, not even being able to think about other countries, because our perspectives were suddenly limited to the four walls, and the front door was suddenly transformed into an insurmountable limit. Suddenly we no longer had the opportunity to fantasize, to imagine distant places.

In June, when I took the first trip after the lockdown, the world seemed different to me. Seemed, because below the surface everything had remained the same. The suitcases made the same noise on the asphalt, and South of Italy smelled as always, the scorching sun burning my head and my family walking around the empty streets of Rome, Napoli, Sorrento, Bari. And I started to believe it again, to imagine what I should have done this summer, to imagine the alternatives, to rethink what it will be, sooner or later.

Nothing. Despite a reduction of the infections in Europe and zero cases in China, international travel remained restricts.

China and Hong Kong, where I live and run my business are still prohibiting entrance for occasional and business visitors.

"Home for the holidays" is more than just some marketing catchphrase.

This new situation has radically changed everybody’s life routine.

We all have to adapt to a New Normal.