Shelter in the storm.
"There goes summer!"
My brother sent this text to me and our two siblings when it was announced a few days ago that Los Angeles would be sheltering in place through July. Or maybe it's August. Since then, the city or perhaps the Los Angeles Times—has walked back this declaration. It's hard to keep track.
As for me, summer was cancelled, or rather, became a non-starter, when the following email arrived in my in-box late yesterday afternoon.
Dear Hollywood Bowl family,
I am sad to share that, for the first time in its almost century-long history, the Hollywood Bowl will be silent this summer.
I didn't need to read any further.
As anyone who has visited me in Los Angeles since I moved here from my native New York twenty-six years ago, I believe you haven't truly experienced L.A. until you've gone to the Bowl. It represents all of the wonder of the City of Angels.
I happened to be attending the Playboy Jazz Festival a few hours after Ella Fitzgerald died and went backstage to interview celebrity attendees about the tremendous loss. My daughter and I sang along to The Sound of Music. Even when an inebriated man nearly vomited on me, I continued to feel the glow of the Bowl. Last October, a friend and I snagged tickets fabulous tickets to see Vampire Weekend a few days before the highly anticipated concert. (The video clip and photo accompanying this post are from that evening.) I have watched countless fireworks with Tchaikovsky blaring. On one of the most memorable nights ever, as Paul Simon crooned from the stage, I became transfixed by the antics of the woman and family in the box seat in front of mine. There was a lot of seat-switching and conversing and back rubbing. Half-way through the show, I caught a glimpse of her profile. It was Meryl Streep.
I felt a twinge upon opening that email. Even as I write these words, my eyes well up ever so slightly with tears. This surprises me. For the most part, I've been able to flow with the pandemic. I need to wear a mask? Check. I need to stay inside? Check. I need to let in a bit of OCD? I'm there, wipes and disinfectant in hand. Zoom birthday parties and reunions? How fun. This way everyone can attend, no matter where they live.
I stay quite busy. I am writing and creating. Mostly, I am watching and listening. To my friends and family. To the individuals I greet as they enter my spiritual center's Crisis Support Clinic. Again, praise be to Zoom, where those who are seeming at their wit's and soul's end can receive sessions with a spiritual practitioner. Above all, I am praying and affirming: This, too, shall pass.
Even as I adapt and flow, the waves of grief rise and fall unexpectedly during these unprecedented times. Unprecedented. This word is used so often, I generally try to avoid it. It was beginning to sound hackneyed to my ears. But how else to describe these interesting times? There I go again. Another adjective that doesn't begin to describe what we are experiencing.
Someday the most apt of words will come. In between the waves, we will define these times. We will survive and we will create something new. And once again, I will sit on a wooden bench and let the soft glow of a violet sky wash over me.
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I like to make stuff...and think about stuff.