Rendered Fat Content


Chicago Rush Hour - 1909
"Nostalgia's not half what it's cracked up to be."

Within every pandemic, some optimist appears to cheer on the positive side of the thing. We do seem a whole lot better connected in isolation than we ever did when roaming around unconstrained. The vehicle traffic has abated to levels the streets seem to have been designed to hold. The road past The Villa sees much more foot traffic, with a steady parade of dog walkers, joggers, and couples strolling while holding hands. Kids pedal past in a nearly endless stream, and I'm sitting out front reading in the afternoon sunshine. The Pace of life has slowed to a rate I've rarely known. Home feels homier, too.

I keep losing my place in the novel I'm holding as I glance up to greet yet another neighbor walking by.
Morning no longer features that quick zoot down the hill and back to drop off The Muse at The Lab, and early evenings no longer find me idling just outside the fence waiting for her return. The Muse's commute has reduced to a short flight of carpeted stairs down into her chilly basement home office space. She arrives right on time without a hint of rush. The freeway, often a tough merge into a flooding bumper-to-bumper stream, seems downright empty on those rare occasions when an errand needs running. I seem to turnaround each trip in half the former time even while moving at more leisurely clips.

Hospitals, I hear, have become madhouses, with trading floor crowds and long waiting lines, the new locus of community activity. The usual Sunday morning crush of cars into and back out of our local mega-church's parking lot hasn't recently materialized and even the High Country traffic's gone since the governor closed the ski resorts where hour plus wait lines falsified claims of wide open spaces. I hail from an era where whole cities relocated for weekend entertainment. Now they seem to just stay home. Everywhere seems barren, even trailheads appear abandoned. Even the skies overhead have quieted considerably. A month ago, the TSA frisked over two million airline passengers each day. Last week they averaged about a hundred thousand. That steady stream of outbound LA flights each morning and night, separated by something less than a minute between, has reduced to the odd occasional bird. I even thought I heard a spring breeze rustle through.

Americans have been grousing about the crush for much of the last hundred years and more. It seemed that nothing more typified an American than our ceaseless urge to get out the door and on our way somewhere, anywhere; we didn't seem to care. We entered the crush with a rush of excited energy, seemingly absorbing our signature enthusiasm from the kinetic crush enveloping us. We reviled stay-at-homers as shut-ins and recluses, confident that the real Americans survived onerous daily commutes, which we executed for the apparent purpose of returning back home again. There and back again in ceaseless repetition, Amen. Now we're working from home or home wondering if we'll ever work again, aching for the alone time that imbedding within that crush used to supply us.

Silver linings seem overrated. This pandemic, so recently underrated, has descended upon us all now, promising worse. But not everything's cursed and it doesn't really require a goddamned optimist to notice that some slices of life seem materially improved. Me and you, we might yet drive each other crazy from spending so much time alone together and the usual distractions, never actually that satisfying, seem wanting and far away. Days do seem longer and I cannot help but wonder if my forebears, who enjoyed a shorter expected life span, didn't experience time at a now unimaginably different Pace back before everything had to be a race. My great aunt used to describe her birth family's Saturday night drive into town for Grange dances. Between hitching up the horses and loading the wagon with the umpteen kids, the frantic ten mile run at the speed of a walking horse, the long evening spent dancing and such, and the long, sleepy ride back home where the horses would be watered and fed before anyone could go to bed, they'd be lucky to get to sleep before four am. They'd be up just after dawn to get that wagon ready for a repeat run into church. Nostalgia's not half what it's cracked up to be.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver