There are moments in life when you know something will end, and you’re not sure what’s ahead, but you know it will be difficult, at least for a while.
I think we’ve all gone through this, when moving, when graduating from a school we loved, or much later, when our kids are growing up and we know they won’t be around like that for very long.
And we can enjoy it a little while. We know what’s coming, but we get a chance to say goodbye.
There are other times that the bolt comes out of the blue. You go out on a beautiful September morning, walk the kids to school, and then get back and make coffee, and there’s a friend on the phone screaming “Turn your tv on, turn your tv on.” And after that day, everything changes, first slowly then very fast, so that a few years later, your writers group of tight knit friends doesn’t exist, your husband has changed jobs, and you have moved, and what seemed to be halcyon days that would last forever are gone.
Or you know, you come back from a trip, sit down for the winter, and plan to visit your parents next year and have all sorts of things you want to do. And then you’re locked down, your city goes to the dogs, your health heads south and two years later you’re in a place you never thought you’d live and your life before is a distant memory.
I’ll say for the last that the very last day before lockdown, as it happens, Dan and I took one of our rare days off, did the Museum of Nature and Science, the Zoo, a walk in the park and our favorite restaurant for dinner. I’ll always have that. That was, in retrospect, my goodbye to the Denver I loved. I just didn’t know it at the time. If I’d known it, I’d have done just what I did.
On the other hand, seeing my parents — given their ages possibly for the last time — is still not possible, for a whole host of complex reasons, of which “I’m afraid something will happen and I won’t be able to come back. And even if I knew Portugal would coast through this, while it will be hell on Earth in the US, I’d prefer being here, where I belong, with my people.” (And that’s true even if my kids were with me there.)
Which one is better? Knowing or not knowing? Saying goodbye or not saying goodbye? One last golden summer, or not?
In the moment we are facing right now, we’re not given a choice, are we?
We know. We all can feel on the ground the thumps of the approaching beast.
Maybe we’ll get lucky one more time. G-d looks after drunkards, fools and the United States of America, and maybe he can still get our butts out of the bear trap, even now.
As some of you — and I myself — have mentioned, even though we’re in deep, deep trouble, the rest of the world is worse, and there is some protection in being the one eyed man in the realm of the blind, even in this.
Maybe we’ll see it play out in the rest of the world and right our boat before we take in too much water.
Maybe. But also, maybe this is the black dog speaking, but that’s not what I see ahead of us. I’m sorry. I think the idiots in power are going to continue idioting because they think no one is onto them.
And I think the water is going to get very choppy, very fast.
Americans aren’t used to deprivation, much less to hunger. I think it will get ugly. Very ugly.
Yes, I think in the end we win. But judging from the other countries that are now rebelling, I think it’s going to come to the brink of an irreversible situation.
Yes, I think we’ll reverse it. I think we’ll come around. I think we’re nowhere near done.
But I also think the next few years… two? three? four? are going to be difficult for almost everyone. We’re going to have to change the way we do everyday things in ways we can’t even imagine. We’re going to go through and have to do things we don’t think we could survive.
A lot of us, who are dependent on daily medication to stay alive, and who might otherwise live for another thirty years or so (forty, judging by my family history) might die if we can’t navigate alternatives.
I think most of — maybe even me, if I get very lucky — will come through this and see the other side. But we won’t be who we are now. And looking back at who we are now, we might very well think of this as our golden time of innocence, before we had to– do all those things, and endure all those things none of us wants to.
So, this last golden summer?
You know what’s coming. We all know what’s coming.
Take a day off. Take your sweetie to a park, or a museum, or the movies, or dinner, or whatever it is you’ve been putting off.
Take a day off and play with your kids.
Is there a trip you wanted to take, and is there some conceivable, not matter how much it requires you to pinch way to take it? Do it. Particularly if you and the family always wanted to.
Sit outside. Savor the peace. Take walks through the neighborhood. Forget your diet for just one day. There’s a chance the government will arrange for you to lose that weight anyway.
Mark some days, a week, a day a weekend. Go to that nice place you always wanted to go. Turn on the music and slow dance with your sweetie.
Be relaxed, be happy and savor it.
Make memories to take you through the hard times.
You can’t change what’s coming. It’s not something a single person can change. And you can’t prepare for everything. There will be things that take you by surprise, and those will hurt worst of all.
But for now, for this golden summer, this calm before the storm, enjoy how very very good life is.
Before everything changes.