After two weeks of working remote, dreary weather, and the lack of excuses, to go grocery shopping or the pharmacy, I decided to take to my front porch as my outside endeavor for the day. As I sat there counting the cars and watching bumblebees seeming to be magnetized by this lilac tree the city decided to put in front of my house, it dawned on me that this must be what it’s like to live in a sleepy little town.
You know the towns you drive through and there’s some old geezer sitting out there with a rocker, a cold drink and that far-off stare into nowhere. He locks onto you as you drive by making sure you enter and exit his territory with the same immediacy then goes back to that far-off stare. I also realized that the ice cold drink I thought he was sipping on could easily be No 17 or any of the three men whose names begin with J; Jim, Jack, or Jameson. It was easy to be lulled into a sense of calm and tranquility until a family pulled up to take a look at the house for sale across the street.
Upon exiting the car the father escorted three kids to the back of the car, lifted the tailgate and removed several masks. He meticulously made sure that’s each of his children had their masks properly fitted before they left his purview. Their mother adjusts her mask as the father pulls his up from where it was hanging from his neck. That’s the reality of where we are as we enter what’s supposed to be the critical periods for this virus to make its run.
Every street, neighborhood, and city has its pulse. There are sounds we grow so familiar with that we only notice them when they’re gone. The movement of people, cars, lawnmowers, sirens, horns honking, transient conversations, all become a part of our norm. There’s usually a stream of people walking to the corner store, bus stop, or park, but none today.
It’s nice to see all of the creative things people are doing to pass the time during this period. However, the more they try the more we are reminded that this is not normal. I’m not a front porch person, but I felt compelled to tell the house that it wasn’t going to keep me hemmed in today. Normally on a beautiful day like today, the cityscape is teeming with inviting pictures to be captured. That’s not to say that photographers have not done a great job capturing empty streets, parks, and playgrounds. It is to say that space is only made real by the things within it.
Well, the family exits the house across the street as the father surveys the neighboring houses and wonders whether to approach me as I sit here typing this post. He sprays down his shoes and all the members of the family to make sure no viruses will stow away in his car and infect him or his family later. He decides to walk over to ask me about the neighborhood while keeping his proper distance. After obtaining the information he wanted to glean he bids farewell, returns to his car and drives away. The birds chirping seemed to get a lot louder as the echoes of silence appeared to return.
So, if this is what he feels like to live in a sleepy little town, I’ll pass for now. There’s discomfort or dis-ease when the routines around us are disrupted. The sounds of our neighborhoods reassure us. Good or bad they keep us anchored or determined. Let’s all do our parts to get through this and get our neighborhoods back to normal.