. . . .Today’s the Summer Solstice.
Yesterday was the first day of summer. Saturday was Juneteenth -- and a birthday party!
Saturday, f or the first time in nearly 16 months I applied some cosmetic. Lipstick cannot be done until arrival, after washing hands, of course, due to masks. Left the apartment about 5 PM, for the first time in nearly 16 months got on the subway. We took the elevator to Hosts' apartment, spent 4 hours in a NYC apartment, with ‘many’ people – about 20? – all unmasked -- but all vaccinated, it should go without saying -- again rode on the subway in company of some of the other guests, and got home about 10:45.
I don’t even know how to describe this thing of simultaneously ‘it was just like life as we knew it Before pandemic with each other and in those rooms’ and ‘what the ??????’ It was so normal. Except it wasn’t.
I seem to have expected that all of us have gone through some great physical transformation. But it was as in Lucifer, the final 5 eps that went up recently on Netflix, after the long hiatus to shoot After pandemic -- everybody everybody looked, sounded and behaved just like themselves -- maybe a bit thinner, but that's to be expected. Everybody has been productive, come through well. People who were coupled before the pandemic are still with each other, clearly all of us even more strongly bonded with our partners than Before.
But unlike previous get-togethers, the conversation was dominated, not by discussions of art, technology, gigs, teaching, and so on, but by a pandemic. Other than that the conversation tended to slide around to the real good old days, of UC-SD, and of the Kitchen, the real days of Before, when we all (mostly) met each other first. And those who might have been with us, but had already gone, well before pandemic.
Some people at Saturday's party had gotten sick with covid. Their experiences were all over the place, none the same, except those who contracted covid did so very early in the pandemic -- and one of them, if I heard correctly, two days before New York locked down in March 2020. Travel seems to be involved one way or another. The second is that the young ones -- I'm talking under thirty -- got it far worse, and were sick much longer than the older ones who got it.
It was so interesting to hear everyone's experiences, reactions and thoughts. Even though we are all among the privileged (though nobody rich or super rich, but we all have enough, with a little to spare; some had much larger spaces to isolate in, and some of us, well, we didn't, some of us even had even been able to leave the city), still, all our experiences were different -- other than as relationships. We were all in good ones Before, and it is clear that these relationships are stronger than ever. None of us had seen each other physically in all this time. All of us have just in the last 10 days or week, just now, begun to re-enter 'the world' despite having been vaccinated for so long -- some since January and February even.
None of us have bee able though, or even desirous of flinging ourselves right back into our lives Before, for all kinds of reasons. Some of the institutions where people worked are gone, including a small liberal arts college that closed down for good this winter. Live music, and traveling for it, is still not regarded as safe among our kind. Artists have lost galleries, and some have lost their museum commissions, even as the institutions shut down. Flying all over the world, all the time, living half the year in a different country -- none of this is possible right now. Moreover, none of us really want to go back to schedules we had Before, it seems, particularly the traveling part. That is particularly unexpected by many of us: we liked staying home, with family. None of us are racing to go to restaurants. We have no interest in going to movies. Any travel this summer is about seeing family, or something like, as in our case, research.
All of us isolated immediately, wore masks and gloves, disinfected everything, and got vaccinated as soon as we possibly could. Several of us were among those standing in the extreme cold and snow at the mass vaccination sites -- many of us went through hell trying get a vaccination appointment, not just once, but for the second dose too. Every one is well informed about covid, and believes another surge is inevitable due to delta and gamma and other variants.
Out came this big birthday cake -- a carrot cake. I don't know about anyone else but it was my first carrot cake in probably two years.
Of course we had a champagne toast. We are all still alive and healthy, still standing, still creating, still loving our partners and families, and each other. How more privileged than that can we get?
We are part of the archetype of our city that makes the fascist international shudder and sneer at it -- yet -- holy cow -- we dare to remain and persist.
Like I say -- privileged, that is us.
And very lucky too. Because the cost of the pandemic is starting to arrive, and I don't mean only with inflation and the higher prices for just about everything across the board, and shortages of things, due to supply line/labor shortages.
The greatest cost is the people we have lost due to them not getting the medical attention they needed soon enough. A friend died today, of cancer, for that very reason. He would be alive, if not for the utterly impossible wreckage made of dealing with covid from the frackin' gitgo. We know who is to blame.