Ten months ago we moved out of the city into a small and utterly charming house in a nearby suburb. We were safe from the pandemic, digitally Nest alarmed, healthfully air-conditioned, feeling near hermetically sealed from the world, never mind the virus.
Warm weather brought out the Hammacher Schlemmer deck furniture, a hammock, a birdbath in the flower beds and a hummingbird feeder shared on a pole with birdseed and suet. I take walks on a well maintained hike and bike trail built on the track bed left behind by the North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad. Recently, a first, I ate a bratwurst grilled on my own weapons grade propane powered Char-Broil Performance 4B 4 burners Stainless Steel grill.
I’m becoming gentrified. I can feel my city skin peeling off. How will I ever ride the Red Line again now that I can smell the roses as well as the urine! How will I ever cut the line at Starbucks with my “excuse me, just getting a re-fill” scam?
It dawns on me: this is a good thing, not a bad thing. The 8:46 to the city is not a welcomed lifeline. It takes me back to hustle and bustle, out of touch with the small, intimate moments that come into view when the walk is slow and breathing is deep in the fresh morning air.
I don’t want to walk around with my ‘flight or fight’ reflex on full alert, so thick skinned I pretend the guy on the corner of Washington and Michigan holding a crumpled paper cup is drinking a Cappuccino and not begging to get closer to his fix of Old Overholt Bonded Rye.
It wasn’t fun to squirm in the grip of time turned dense with boredom, loneliness and anxiety. It was challenging to face fear and deal with the loss of people who played parts in my life, small and large. The images sharing the screen on Zoom were small, but the value of human relationships loomed large.
The message in the unprecedented headline, 600,000 dead from Covid-19 virus, was a wakeup call with a high decimal buzzer. Life is not a given, it can end in an instant! Prehistoric man did not stew in a traffic jam on I-94. It’s logical to believe that sitting in a lawn chair sipping iced tea and reading the latest John Grisham novel will help slow us down to the speed of life which we’ve been biologically programmed to live.