I listened to REM’s album Automatic for the People yesterday. I’m not sure exactly why that particular album came to mind, but did you know it’s almost 30 years since its release? 1992. I fell in love with that album during the summer of 1996, and I specifically remember listening to the song “Nightswimming” about a hundred times during a solo road trip to see some friends on Long Island. I had left work at 5 p.m. and hit I-95, eventually seeing the Verrazano Bridge in the distance, its soft arcing lights stretching over the Narrows.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
I arrived late, not sure if I was at the right house, woke up my friends, and we stayed up until the early morning, catching up, relaying how our summers had gone so far. I woke up the next morning, the house feeling strange, my friends still sleeping.
Nightswimming, remember that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
This is the kind of memory a song can bring back. 160 miles over whirring blacktop, and bridges into islands where I had never been before. The far-off sound of friends inside the house, what a relief, and falling asleep on an unfamiliar couch, in an unfamiliar town.
* * * * *
I got the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday. As of the time of this writing, I’m feeling fine, but when you’re reading this I could be sick, or maybe dead. Any of us could be dead, I guess. That’s what happens, when you keep living. The dying is yet to come.
I have friends who are very anti-vaccine, and it’s hard for me to understand, but because I know their backgrounds, I kind of get it. But I was happy to get the old needle in the arm. It’s free. It will probably keep me from getting Covid-19, or at least in its most serious form. It greatly reduces the chance that I could pass it on to the vulnerable people in my life.
Beyond the efficacy of the shot, Maile and I remarked about how wonderful it was to see people working together. I mean at the site where they administer the vaccine. All sorts of different people, organized and wanting to help. They see this as the way out, so they’ve stepped up, and they’re doing everything they can to make the process easier. Maybe there are some executives somewhere who see the whole vaccine opportunity as a money grab, a way to make millions, but what do you expect in a capitalistic society? When I saw the little people on the ground helping, I could appreciate that. It’s a kind of neighborly love we don’t see very much anymore.
But like I said. Maybe by now my arm has fallen off. Or I’ve turned into the Incredible Hulk. Or maybe there’s some strange pulsing in my mind, just this repetition over and over again, “Q…Q…Q…”
* * * * *
We’re still in the process of moving. It seems never-ending. I’m not even sad about moving anymore because I can’t see beyond the stacks of boxes or the fact that we can’t properly clean the house because there’s stuff everywhere and just when you pack a box the Littles come along and pull everything out again. It’s like a game of Whack-a-Mole, with both hands tied behind your back, and a blindfold on.
Moving is a strange thing that reaches down into the primal parts of us. To physically change the primary location of where you exist in the world is no small thing. Where you eat. Where you sleep. Where you take care of your family. Where you laugh and cry and think.
We move on the 29th. And for those in my family who are reading this, consider this your open invitation to come carry boxes. It’s Memorial Day weekend, so you won’t forget.