Transition. What a strange word. It means we are neither here or back there, but in a place that is oddly changing. Sometimes I wonder, where is solid ground? I really want to go back to where I was on February 1 when my world was spinning predictably in its orbit, but I have no choice but to go forward and negotiate this transitional space.
For weeks, most of us have been sheltering in place or staying home as much as possible. We venture out only for necessities, to exercise in the open air, or to walk the dog. But now barriers are being lifted. We can eat in a restaurant, shop in a store, swim in the ocean. Does this mean we could don masks, use hand sanitizer, social distance, and maybe travel a bit? Or is that a bridge too far?
While I long to break this self-imposed social isolation, there seems to be an invisible barrier that holds me back from going to a restaurant or a store. A brush with an outdoor gathering sent me scurrying back home, closing the door behind me. Is this fear or prudence?
This weekend, we would normally be celebrating Memorial Day with two events. At church, in a special service, we would honor those who served or died to protect our country—and, ultimately, us. At home, I would set out the photo of a relative who gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, spending a long moment looking at his image, honoring his bravery, and silently thanking him.
On previous Memorial Day weekends, there was also a sense of change in the air. After honoring our veterans with somber thoughts and gratitude, we would then prepare for the first warm-weather party. Within a day—or sometimes within hours—we would go from sober thoughts of all those who have kept us safe, to our traditional, not-so-sober “Welcome Summer” festivities.
My mind now stumbles at the disparity of these two events.
At the party, there would be swimming, conversation, and eating tri-tip, barbecued corn on the cob, and Aunt Jen’s special hot-fudge-sundae sauce. The party would be loud, with lots of laughter, conversation, and some shrieking from those playing in the pool. The sun would eventually slide behind the mountains, and family and friends would disperse to soak in the spa or huddle around the fire pit. The inevitable storytelling would start, and memories would swirl in the bubbling water and the dancing flames.
Security, happiness, friendship, family, and ritual—these are what I miss.
Memorial weekend of 2020 is here, and I’ve set out the photo, but there will be no party, not for a while. The special church service will be online. But the day can’t come too soon when we will gather together at our church to remember and to kick off summer with the annual poolside party. In the meantime, maybe I will venture out to a restaurant and shop in a store. The rest will come. I’m counting on it.
But for now, I’m walking on the rocks in a rushing stream, looking for solid ground.