A couple of weeks ago my son Googled the best place to watch the sunset in the DFW metroplex. He moved in with me for the duration of our state’s shelter-in-place order so we weren’t both living alone. He was hoping to drive out somewhere, anywhere, for a change of scenery.
Turns out one of the top recommendations was the view from my very own building.
I live on a small urban lake. There is no beach, only concrete retainers and a wide path made of brick pavers. All the same, the view is lovely, making our morning (and now, afternoon, and evening, and in-between) walks more than a mere escape from the close walls of a small space. To follow me on Instagram is to know that I find the view to be its own unique joy.
The lake is not meant for swimming. All the signs say so. But before COVID-19, one could rent a water trike. Or pay for a gondola ride (complete with its striped-shirt gondolier) around the lake and down the connected canal, the striking old world architecture meant to allow a person to imagine themselves away to Venice.
From our multiple-times-a-day around the lake vantage point, we have watched a community respond to the creeping takeover of a crisis. For others, the takeover was much more sudden. And dire. We had more time here, more opportunity to learn from the both the wisdom and missteps of other cities. Five weeks ago I was able to sneak in a final haircut, several days before the shops shut down. I can still venture out for groceries every week and find most of what we need. We’ve lacked for little.
I’ve had the good fortune to be fairly well removed, taking all the usual precautions but being able to observe this tragic takeover from a distance. We’re still healthy, along with most of my extended family and friends. I’ve not lost anyone dear. I’m still working, if from my bedroom and rather upside down.
But we haven’t peaked here. Not my community, not the country. Even those places that have peaked face continued uncertainty, continued threat. Each day I am acutely aware that things could change at any moment. Each day I wonder what the world will look like when it’s over. If it will be over. Who won’t be here to see it. Whether I will. I haven’t actively worried much since the very first days. But I do think of these things often, all the same.
On April 1, I prepaid a month’s rent. It’s hard to explain why, but I have reasons for it to seem prudent. I’ve avoided updating my will.
A few nights ago I stood outside my building at the edge of the lake, the sun dropping behind buildings exquisitely reflected in the still glass surface. A young man with dark curls jogged by in sandals and shorts. He strummed a ukulele and sang a song written perhaps at that moment, but certainly for the moment. “Yes, you could catch coronavirus!” went the refrain as he continued around the curve.
Yes, you could. I could. Maybe you have. Mortality, when it runs along beside us day after day, strumming a ukulele and singing an absurd, made-up song, makes the sunset more important, its colors more distinct. May you find a place nearby to stand and take it in.
Photo by OiMax, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Will Willingham.
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Isnt it crazy how deep our thoughts keep going as we face this never seen before time of life? We’ve lived in our home three years and I’ve never noticed all the ducks. Now I’m feeding them, naming them, and even talking to them. I am taking time to do the things my body needs in order to catch a few peaceful moments of escape. Your post reminded me of all that. Thank you.
Will Willingham says
The ducks! I just saw babies out this week, without their mother. I had been wondering when they would start showing up.
Listen to your body, Mug. In these times especially.
Bethany R. says
“Mortality, when it runs along beside us day after day, strumming a ukulele and singing an absurd, made-up song, makes the sunset more important, its colors more distinct.”
And all this time staying in one place makes some of the familiar a bit unfamiliar and vice versa.
I appreciate your closing line. Wishing you, yours, and the Tweetspeak community well.
Will Willingham says
Yes, things can feel disorienting at times, even in the most familiar.
Megan Willome says
I swear that ukulele guy sounds like an Austin dude, but I’m happy to hear Dallas has its share of unique folks as well.
So glad you are not alone.
Will Willingham says
Entirely possible though. My housemate is a temporarily displaced Austin dude, so it could happen. (Would make so much more sense than a Dallas dude, right?)
Richard Maxson says
the night sky is clear
my dog looks up at the stars
teaching me to see