2020: A Check-In at MidYear

The sticky heat of the midsummer holiday clung to my skin in a tacky sheen. I could feel it where my forearms contacted the chair and where the bend of my elbows creased.

It’s summertime in Michigan, where I sit on the screened-in porch of the cottage listening to the cacophony of children splashing in the water and firecrackers sounding in excited bursts. And where the sky is lit in 15 hour days, the sun setting late in the evening at 915, with the last fading light sneaking away at almost 10 PM.

I spent the morning with Mom cooking a Fourth of July feast, replete with foods from my travels. Bread and muhammara have become staples from my first trip to Turkey. Tzatziki, souvlaki, and horiatiki salad came from Greece, and the chilled summer dish, vitello tonnato, was brought from Italy.

This has been a challenging year, and I haven’t checked in since my post home from India. I had travel plans, but the wold got in the way.

In March I was due to travel to Porto, Portugal. Just as the date of the trip was approaching, the COVID-19 lockdowns began and I decided to stay home. I likely wouldn’t have been able to do much there, and might have encountered difficulty getting back to the States.

The second half of March, and all of April and May were consumed with physical distancing and quarantine. So when the time came for my May scuba trip to the Bahamas, that was canceled as well. This turn of events wasn’t entirely by choice, as the Bahamas had closed their borders to international flights, although I probably wouldn’t have gone there either.

I wasn’t able to return to New York until mid May (what was the point with the lockdown?), so those trips were all canceled as well. Somewhere along the way my plans to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon and to complete another triathlon went by the wayside.

When I finally found myself back in the city her streets were still empty and her stores lifeless, wreaked as she has been by the ravages of the virus.

I’ve passed the time and spent my staycations lifting weights and pandemic baking. I’ve been making focaccia that takes me back to Genoa and I’ve made pizza while reflecting on the eternally shadowed streets of Naples. I’ve made curries as I’ve thought of India and soon will try my hand again at the Moroccan pastilla.

As we enter the second half of the year COVID is burning out of control, fed by the fuel of those unwilling to take the least degree precaution. Racial tensions in America are also flaring brilliantly in a painful, livid, crucible. Closer to home, my gym is open again, after a fashion, doing workouts in the parking lot and distance fitnessing.

For my case the wander lust is smoldering. Although I’ve been back to Marquette, I miss planning trips to distant places. I have days to use for such missions, but possibly nowhere to go. I have plans for November that were made well before the pandemic, and am just sitting on those thoughts for now. I hope I am able to take that trip, but too much uncertainty hangs in the air.

Until then I’m going to keep going to work, lifting my weights, baking my pizza, and hoping for the next trip that I can take. Life moves forward, lurching violently askew in riptides and currents, taking us where it will.

And we have to learn to ride the waves we are given, even if they aren’t the waves we want.

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