After a particularly 2020 Thursday, I extracted myself from my desk, untethering a foggy brain from the pile of as yet unfinished to-do’s on my task list, disenfranchising my mood from the call I’ve just ended, glad the customer’s red tape, hoops to jump and gauntlet of demands were less horrible than initially thought. A quick Google Flights search to see if there are actually any destinations available yet. Rien.
Earbuds, check. Shoes, camera, keys. Mask. Check, check, check. Sigh.
As I walk, it’s feeling like early summer, but early summer somewhere just slightly off. Like that feeling of re-entry but without the two or three weeks of travel abroad to precede it. I recognise the streets and landmarks and cracks in the sidewalk, but my evening walk is as if I’m walking through an awkward dream, poppy music playing in my head all the way.
I round the corner and hear horns honking…a traffic jam in this little quiet seaside city. As I approach a tired 3-family home I’ve walked past every day for years, there are balloons tied about and a little girl in a pink tutu. The cars are honking as they drive up, balloons flying from their windows, delivering goodies and kisses and smiles to a beaming birthday girl.
We’re still in semi-lockdown here, though I’m not really sure of the official rules. Wear masks. Go out. But don’t so much. And don’t mingle too closely with people you don’t live with. No restaurants. But go in for take-out. Go to the beach, but don’t get too close when you’re there…Don’t go to the beach if you don’t live in town. Don’t park here. Walk on the left side of the street. Get your hair done. Or your nails. But no shopping unless it’s food or essentials. Or alcohol. CVS is still out of alcohol and thermometers. The farmstand now sells single rolls of TP. It’s like life, cattywampus.
I stop and watch the birthday parade. It makes me smile, a genuine smile that begins in my heart, for the first time in two days. There’s still hope, I think, of salvaging normal. Whatever that means. The tutued child is elated, and non-revellers join in as they realise the event that’s unfurling. Strangers en route home at the end of the day honk in celebration as they drive by. Neighbours are taking video. Some, like me, are watching and clapping.
We’re grasping here, for shreds of normal; for a day without apocalyptic breaking news, for a day where nothing at all happens out of the ordinary. That would be nice.
And so I think, as I continue my walk, maybe it’s not all asshats with flamethrowers. That there’s hope if a little girl can have a sidewalk birthday party without necessarily knowing there are protests going on this week to ensure she can have all the opportunities in life and celebrate her magic at 15 and 25 and 40…
Happy 5th birthday, tutu girl. I hope all your birthday wishes come true.
Sending out a heartfelt hug to those suffering under this collective grief. I’m trying to collect thoughts and words, and never sure the right thing to say these days. I am, however, certain that #2020sucks and #BlackLivesMatter.