On the surface, Sundays feel the same on the island. But things have changed even on this most causal of days.
One obvious change is the lack of church choir. I miss the church coffee and the pleasant fellowship of my fellow singers. And going out to brunch at a restaurant is off the board. By now, a few places have opened for limited seating, but I am still skeptical of the trajectory of the pandemic. It is still too early for the optimism of breakfast.
Another more subtle change is in the Sunday newspapers.
I realize that I have instantly dated myself. My son and his generation do not think of a daily journal as a rite of passage the way we do. I can recall the cozy Sunday feeling of being stretched out on the floor with the Sports or the Arts section open in front of me (New York Times had no Comics) and a loving cocker spaniel sitting on top of that, vying for attention. The scene in my memory is in greyscale wash with a soundtrack of opera. It speaks home to me.
There is still a Sunday paper in our house (two in fact, we get the NYT and the local news) although my days of lying on the floor are long gone. There is still a dog close at foot, now an ancient and somewhat lunatic pug. And instead of a stereo playing FM stations, we have Alexa playing ‘Classical for Concentration’ or whatever playlist she has offered up. If we don’t look too closely, it still appears like those pleasant weekend mornings of yore.
But the papers themselves have changed to match the current pandemic state. I’m not talking about the headlines. I’ve lived long enough to have read far too many catastrophic headlines in my life. The differences rest in what has been removed.
The New York Times has excised their vaunted sports and travel sections, lumping some of that into what they call the At Home Section. These omissions make sense after all. When the only sports news is “Still No Word On When Seasons Will Open” it seems hardly worth printing an entire section. As for Travel, there are only so many wistful essays that can be written along the lines of “If Only I Could Travel I would Go To…”
There’s the rub, isn’t it? All the lacunae in our life right now make sense. Brunch at a restaurant could be dangerous. Social Distancing will slow the spread of the virus at the cost of handshakes and hugs. Newspaper sections covering things that once were or that cannot be now are expensive luxuries. It all makes sense.
But that doesn’t make their absence any less jarring. The clear-eyed logic does not quite make up for the heartache of their loss.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]