This covers the week of 7/19/20 - 7/25/20.
Friday, July 30, 2021
The side doors to a vacant hotel are barred with luggage carts.
dreadingI wish I were used to these feelings of foreboding by now, the way they stalk through my psyche and claw at my attention.
We notice a duck with blue, black, and white coloring on its wings. It reminds me of a flag. Estonia's flag, maybe? To check, we don't need to consult an atlas or a search engine. All he does is type Estonia into a text message on his phone. He receives a suggested flag emoji for Estonia, and yes, those are the same colors on the duck.
The documentary about the park is less about information and more about celebration. I'm fine with that, especially because the park has been a refuge when so many other places remain closed. Let's be happy that it exists.
Joggers glistening and puffing in the morning. Drops of sweat shivering on shirtless basketball players.
A visit to the dentist is much as it ever was, except for the air filters in every room, the mandatory masks, and the empty chairs between patients in the waiting room. This time, along with the x-rays and cleaning, I get fitted for a night guard, an attempt to protect my teeth from the unconscious grinding I subject them to when I sleep.
Three rows of stout old people working out with wooden swords. Their instructor, a senior himself, walks among them and corrects their form. I pretend that what I'm looking at isn't an exercise group but a training session for elderly assassins. (They're effective because most people don't consider them a threat... until it's too late.)
Friday, July 23, 2021
This covers the week of 7/12/20 - 7/18/20.
The barber works outdoors on a path by the lake. At his station: a chair, a radio, a case of supplies, and scraps of hair softening the ground.
The air above the water is glittering with dragonflies. They swoop around in taut ellipses. They also bring to mind a faint memory, one that remains unrealized: that the word "dragonfly" once stood as a code for something, when I was a kid.
Humidity settles in like a rude, sweaty man arriving late to a concert, filling the seat next to you with body heat and sticky elbows and the moistness of the breath he expels through his mouth.
People pose before the words Black Lives Matter, which have been painted in large yellow letters on the street. When they're done taking selfies and group photos, they walk past a bus stop where two black homeless men are curled up on the ground (#noeyecontact #nocomment #quicksteps).
A shuttered museum, the garden behind the gates still beautifully tended.
Small businesses are evaporating, though some restaurants stay afloat with outdoor seating. For pedestrians, there remains a narrow path between tables arranged on sidewalks. Near one cafe, a homeless man sleeps on a discarded sofa, about a dozen feet from diners who can finally say they're eating out.
The funniest joke I hear this week is the one about the cost of different streaming services. The most expensive one is Harvard, at roughly $50,000 a year.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
This covers the week of 7/5/20 - 7/11/20.
A 12-year-old Samoyed dog is getting groomed in the park by his owner, who has brought along music that keeps the dog happy. ("Opera is his favorite!") As bits of his puffy white coat drift to the grass, the dog grins, even when an aria is anguished.
innocentThe water is dimpled by a toy sailboat. It's an optimistic sight. A bit of normal fun in the park, during a summer when so much is out of the ordinary and out of joint.
An egret stalks across the shallow end of a pond. Sometimes, it seems to trip forward, its beak plunging into the water. Maybe it's gobbling up tiny fish.
At the bookstore, a cashier bounces between the front register and the cafe counter. The cafe has no chairs and tables, and only one customer peeks into it. The front register sees little traffic too. As I explore the shelves, two other employees approach to ask if I need assistance. They need sales, desperately.
Our infrequent meetings are a diversion. An hour of strolling, an hour of conversation on a bench with hopeful birds at our feet. The time we share is pleasant. It always is.
Dead fish bob on the river. Clumps of them befoul the marina. The wind sweeps away most of the sickening fish odor, but some of the stench clings.
A caterpillar that looks like creamy fluff crawls out from the grass and risks its life on the sunny path.