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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