Away we go - into the sixth month and no reprieve from warnings and endless best wishes ("Stay safe. Hope you are well.") No straightforward way to say. What are my wishes these days? Are they the best I can come up with and not sound automatic. August is becoming the most uncomfortable month since few answers to questions about Covid are forthcoming.
What are 'best' defenses against the sense of futility so rampant? It's a personal matter. I keep uppermost in mind the memories of past summers when Chautauqua was ongoing and the beaches of Greece beckoned. Yes, even in the heat the salt water was cool on the skin, the view to Turkey across the way was unobstructed, all sense of time was lost in the embrace of sun, sea and sky.
The current worry when other worries have been tackled is about whether American cities will survive - those with the most prestige and attractions. When jobs are lost and money is scarce might young people especially think of returning 'home,' to smaller urban centers where cost of living is less and the potential to survive may be greater, not to mention the possibility of raising a family in less pressured territory. Give up the artificially induced ballyhoo regarding 'making it' and 'settle' for a reputation as a responsible, even fulfilled person.
(Salty eyeballs. Swollen lips. Hair like straw on skin baked dry by the sun. Unselfconscious bodies on a beach of multicolored pebbles. A warm wind over lapping sound of stones rubbing together in an irregular beguiling rhythm. An unobstructed view across the water to the outline of Turkey seen in a long gray shape. This is paradise dotted by tamarisk trees along a curving shore. A man in a neon yellow vest in charge of picking up stray debris takes the shade beside a public changing room - a small cubicle open from the knees down. Two such tiny structures are for the convenience of day trippers, to this out of the way place from town.Hence, too, a shower up against the stone wall under the narrow one-way road above. Years ago one morning I was startled but not entirely surprised to see a boatload of refugees coming ashore a few hundred yards from my sleeping quarters adjacent to the beach. I hurried back to throw on a robe and picked up pack of men's shoes and boots I had brought in anticipation of coming up against such a scene. Two young Syrian men from Aleppo greeted me next to the shower, nor far from a dozen or more fully covered women and children sitting quietly nearby. They would be taken by bus into town, sheltered in tents in the public park and interviewed by UN officials, and after that who knows their fate? Asylum on the mainland, but for how long? And where are they today. I neglected to ask to track the young men, whose only interest in the moment was trying on the footwear for size. )
When the great book is written - there will be many of them - one bench mark question will be 'what kept you sane?" Cliche upon cliche. Yet it is possible to produce a plausible answer and not sound entirely off the rocker (why that phrase?). I know that I doubled down on cooking at home, usually for my self, a lonely only, seeing in recipes a distraction and challenge. I gloamed onto the NYTImes Cooking site and ventured forth. I also persuaded myself not to get into the TV addiction syndrome, but somehow rise above the incessant notices about what to watch where/when. Keep focused on what is physical, I say.