2021 has been a very unusual year, and brought us a very unusual summer. Vaccination for many of us has made possible more close encounters with those we love, like, and hardly know. But it’s certainly not business as usual– that’s for sure.
However, looking back to mid-May, and looking forward to the end of August, I can’t say I’m feeling disappointed with how this summer has unfolded and will proceed. Here are a few ways I’m spending my summer that are a departure from my usual gadding about– conferencing, visiting family and trying to arrange a far-away vacation.
No air travel: all my visiting and vacationing and exploring is happening by car this summer. I’m super lucky that I was able to finally give my 13-year-old manual transmission Toyota Matrix to my niece Gracie and buy a 2021 automatic Honda Civic Hatchback. Two bikes plus gear will still fit in the back with the seats down, but the interior is much more comfortable and gadgety. I love it.
A new car means I’ve happily undertaken the long drive (1000 miles/1600 km) to South Carolina to visit family, and I’ve stayed longer with them. Driving also means I take more breaks, generally in the form of walking in some green area en route, and also using hotel pools (now that they’ve reopened– yay vaccination!). And yes, driving means I can take my bike plus whatever other gear I want with me. I love love love not having to pack light or worry about carryon restrictions. Finally, driving has meant carpooling with friends and family, too– we’re all more slowed down and a teensy bit more flexible about schedules. Huzzah to that!
More walking with friends and family and their dogs: even after getting vaccinated (did I say yay vaccination? Yay again!), almost everyone I know is still in the habit of passing time together on foot, tooling around the neighborhood, to a local place for something to eat or drink, doing errands, or just to enjoy the warm weather. It’s been such fun walking with friends and family, as well as friends’ and family dogs. Yes, I’m talking about you, Baxter! And you, Dixie! And Kita! And Wylie! And Mopsy! And other canines not mentioned here. The thing is, I’ve got the time. Imagine that.
Upping my swimming game: this is a project still in process, but I’ve gone swimming much more this year than in decades. Fresh water, ocean, warm water, cold water– I’m dipping in when I can. Friends are a huge help, as I tag along behind them, taking advantage of their slipstream of purpose and intention. Yes, I’m talking about you, Norah! And others, too. Again, it feels to me like it takes more time and effort to go to a lake or beach to swim, but oh, the benefits and the joys! I’ve got plans to swim in two different states (Massachusetts and New Hampshire) next week.
Vacationing regionally with friends: In years past, I would try to do a longer-distance vacation, sometimes combined with a conference. This year I had planned to go to Utah with a friend and her family to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. But as time grew nearer, I found that I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t psyched about getting on a plane, going to what are apparently super-crowded parks during record heat in the west while COVID cases are on the rise. Hard to argue with that, right?
Instead, I’ve gone to Cape Elizabeth, Maine for a long weekend with friends, am heading to Brattleboro Vermont to see a friend, visiting friends in their new apartment in NYC, and going on a meditation retreat with friends in Rhinebeck, NY. All of these trips are short, an easy drive away, and involve fun times with good friends I didn’t get to see in person during the past year. Yay for being with those we love again!
Rethinking time: I’m not even sure what I mean here. But it’s true that since March 2020, I’ve had time to think about what’s important to me. Like many of you, that means friends, family, projects, pets, creativity, helping others, movement, and home. Cultivating and maintaining connections to those things takes time. And it turns out, we’ve got time. Who knew? More on this as it becomes clearer, but for now, I’m so enjoying just spending and passing the time of the summer, doing basic and satisfying activities.
- Will I get on a plane again? Yes.
- Will I take a far-away vacation again? Yes.
- Will I go to an in-person conference again? Yes.
- Will I forget these lessons I’ve learned about the importance of spending time, lots of time, on what I care about? I hope not. This is why I’m writing it down here and now.
What about you, dear readers? What are you doing differently this summer? How are the pace and scope of your activities different? Or are they? I’d love to hear what you’re up to.