What's Your Pandemic Daydream?
On my daily walk, I pass the end of the line, where trains are idling more than they should be. We live 45 minutes from The City, my hometown.
I hallucinate about getting on the train, masked, at social distance, passing familiar sights I have not seen in 13 months – the high overpass between Manhasset and Great Neck, the tidal inlet between Douglaston and Bayside, the crowds in Flushing Chinatown, the skyline up ahead, the new high rises in Long Island City, the tunnel under the river, and then we arrive in the insulting dump known as Penn Station.
In my daydream, I get off at the front, rush up the stairs to Moynihan Train Hall, which opened this January, the instant landmark that has risen in the poisonous air of fear.
* * *
With one shot in my arm, and another on the way, I dare to dream again.
In the name of sanity, I have repressed memories of things we used to do, back when.
Our widespread family is mostly okay. My wife and I are blessed in many ways, including family and friends and the means to pursue projects and interests at home during this pandemic. This is hardly a lament. She got wise to the pandemic right away and we agreed: Don’t take chances.
But now the urges and the memories come flooding back.
I’ll admit it, I am stir-crazy. My daydreams multiply.
--- My wife and I have been hard-liners, repressing the urges to hug our kids, our grandkids, in a year of elbow bumps, quickie chats in driveways, emails and phone calls, a few furtive visits across a deck or a large living room, the door cracked open for ventilation, even in mid-winter.
We have been united mostly by a chain of eight text-message addresses, known as Family Bigs – snarky politics, music links, family gossip, sports updates. But in my daydream, there is the chance to settle in, tell stories, laugh behind a mask –at long last, hug.
-- I am a realist. I know these daydreams could be destroyed by another surge, brought about by simpleton governors like the guy in Texas who does not seem to comprehend what the scientists are saying. These politicians and their followers want to “open up” the businesses, even at the risk of lives. I understand the urge for normalcy, after the vicious ineptitude of the previous president. Now we are close to being able to imagine the past. We can dare to dream. But don’t screw it up.
-- In this daydream, we are upstate, visiting one daughter’s home in the woods, and I take a walk up the hill, and look out over a long Adirondack ridge. I cannot hear a human sound. Hawks glide below. Way over on the other side, a car pulls up to a house in the woods, but at this distance I cannot tell if it is a modest cabin or a luxury hideaway. I have missed open space; all is mystery, all is serene.
--- In another daydream, we slip into a booth at one of our local favorites, let’s say Gino’s, and order pasta for my wife, Gaby’s salad (fresh farm vegetables) for me, those great chewy rolls, and then one slice of Cheesecake a la Nonna with coffee. Or maybe we are in Diwan down by the bay (Bobby C's amazing roasted cauliflower!) or DiMaggio’s on Port Blvd, or Little Dumpling in Little Neck. My wife has cooked so well over the past 13 months; for reasons of safety, we cannot see ourselves going out for a meal anytime soon.
--- Waiting for the second dose of vaccine (I hear tales of chills and aches), in my mind I start making overdue appointments -- a recall on our car, the dentist, the dermatologist, the optician, maybe even the barber. Then there's the furnace/AC spring tuneup plus a capable carpenter who can fix everything that is falling apart. And what about the telephone company that is threatening to install an “upgrade” on our service. (Or is it really time to ditch our landline?)
--- In this daydream, I am walking around The City, any neighborhood will do. I bet I am pulled to the Met Museum, for a pilgrimage to the Goyas. I also miss my friends from high school, from college, from work. Zoom and e-mail and phone calls have served their purpose but maybe soon, in early spring, I meet one good friend or another on an outside bench, for a coffee, just to encounter a familiar voice, familiar eyes, over a mask.
--- We drive to visit our other daughter in Deepest Pennsylvania -- the ridge of Blue Mountain, on our right, accompanying us for more than an hour. Barns and hexes and old farmhouses alongside I-78. Then a meal on the patio, laughter, gossip, work updates, maybe the grown grandson and granddaughter materializing. Real life.
--- Sometime in the near future, we sit in a den with our son and his wife, rooting for deGrom and McNeil, enjoying the banter of Gary and Keith and Ron, in their cloisters up in the booth. Real life.
----These are just the starters. I daydream about new National Theatre presentations in the revived Kew Gardens Cinema; I daydream about a run up to our late-in-life discovery -- Maine; I daydream about seeing my siblings. Real life.
What do you miss?
How do you imagine it coming back, in some form, maybe soon?
Please feel free to share, in the Comments section, the things you imagine when you close your eyes.
3/10/2021 11:05:19 am
Lovely blog post. You should think about writing for a living.
3/10/2021 08:35:13 pm
Dave: Thanks, you are kind, but I'm just an Underwear Guy, pecking on my laptop for the fun of it.. GV
3/13/2021 11:22:56 am
Hi George, I miss feeling safe and I miss the sanity.
3/10/2021 11:25:27 am
It has been quite some year, and thank God our family has escaped covid. We have been vigilant about observing all the guidelines. So many of us have now had our two vaccines, and you and Marianne are close to that point. And after a few weeks, as more and more people have been vaccinated, hopefully you will feel safer, and can venture out. One day at a time. And you can start to fulfill some of your recent dreams. Peace - and love brother.
3/10/2021 07:19:48 pm
My day dream is to go to the first day game of the Mets with good friends. Then eat a big fat hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard, drink Diet Coke loaded with ice and eat a full bag of peanuts while talking the whole time with my friends.
3/10/2021 08:43:21 pm
Jean: Great minds think....but you are hardier than I am. For the time, even in my daydreams, I can see flitting through the Moynihan Hall or the room with the Goyas...but I'm just not sure about the ball park and the fans within. I think the Mets are allowed 4,500 fans at the start of the season....a work in progress. Funny, I just got an email from a Hofstra athlete pal -- known him since freshman orientation-- and he has exactly the same fantasy. TBC
3/10/2021 08:37:44 pm
Jane, thanks....yes, one day at a time,. It gets me through. I'm trying to avoid the grandiosity that I can easily mingle....even with people who've had the shots. Good luck with all on your plate...Love, George
3/16/2021 02:07:44 pm
Es siempre un gusto leer a George Vecsey. Here's a stellar writer, sensible, thoughtful, kind. Muchas gracias
3/10/2021 11:36:46 am
3/10/2021 08:46:06 pm
Bruce, I know how you love your routine in Paris. Hope you get back soon. My guess is, a lot of good things don't change that much.there,...G
3/10/2021 09:39:12 pm
3/10/2021 11:44:27 am
It is usually the little things that one misses the most. When I lived and worked on Manhattan's Upper West Side, I used to enjoy walking the neighborhood to either take a break from my retail store or for an evening or weekend stroll to enjoy various sections of the city.
3/10/2021 08:49:42 pm
Alan: This pandemic is a full year, officially, and I still am experimenting with masks...Nice you all have a local supplier. Glad the rate is low where you are. And I hear you are coaching goalkeepers again. Good luck! GV
3/10/2021 12:38:02 pm
Mendel: Mazel Tov to all of you. I'm sorry to hear your parents cannot leave NY at this point. I bet your family can beam some of the proceedings to them. Our best to your daughter....
3/10/2021 01:26:12 pm
Careful, George! Missing hugs has gotten a guy who went to my high school in a heap of trouble!
3/10/2021 08:59:44 pm
3/10/2021 06:45:36 pm
3/10/2021 09:04:33 pm
Dear Altenir: You'll both make it back to the Village to show Neo where he was Christened in that beautiful church on that warm spring day.
3/10/2021 07:19:38 pm
I miss going to the movies. I want to see the latest releases on the big screen and not on demand at inflated prices. I miss going to the mall; not only for the walk but to see what is new and exciting in the world of retail. Not that I*m complaining about e commerce but sometimes the packages are not delivered directly to my door in the complex and it turns into an adult version of hide and go seek,. Finally, I miss browsing in a bookstore, any bookstore, where I can escape into the worlds of mystery, sci-fi, sports and history, For example. I found out from a certain retailer about a new book that has Queen Elizabeth turning detective and tracking a murderer at Windsor Castle, Based on current events, the author must feel like he won the lottery.. Stay healthy, everybody.
3/10/2021 09:10:27 pm
Dear Jeffrey Geller: I had not heard about the QE novel. Good timing, indeed.
3/10/2021 09:44:21 pm
George, in case you are interested, the title of the book, so help me Manchester City and United, is The Windsor Knot, Now if that is not a tie-in, I don*t know what is. Ta for now..
3/11/2021 12:20:37 pm
Lovely string, lovely starter.
Comments are closed.
“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.