The thing about car horns and time during the Summer of Stillness

The car horns, man. They get me every time.

When I hear the rapid fire BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! I get a little excited for those on the receiving end of the drive-by celebrations, but then I get a little sad. I think about all those kids missing out on birthday parties, graduation celebrations, family reunions and just plain old summertime get-togethers stocked with everything from picnic food to cold drinks to shared memories.

While I am deeply appreciative of the creativity that comes from the necessity of social distancing, which has meant more car horns and yard signs and fewer hugs and gatherings this summer, I know that we’re missing out on a lot.

Going into 2020, it felt like this might just be the Summer of Steps Forward. After all, this was the summer for a new adventure with Wonder Woman in movie theaters. It was a time when we were going to watch political parties gather en masse in places like Milwaukee and Charlotte for their national conventions. It also was supposed to be the time that, regardless of our political party affiliations, we could collectively chant “U-S-A!” as we watched the Summer Olympics.

July 2019 may feel like seven years ago, but it was only 12 months. At that time, I wrote that it felt like we were deep in the Summer of Simmer. A year later, with Covid-19 raging through many areas in the country, this feels like the Summer of Stillness.

That’s because many of us don’t have big travel plans. No weekend excursions. No practices, activities or even summer camps. And maybe that’s what we need. A little time.

This summer, whether we like it or not, we get a pause on The Grind to pull up our heads, rub our eyes and look around. And when we do, we see the economic inequality swirling around us and the incredible health disparities, particularly among minority communities. We also have some time to read about these things and to start making some changes to address them.

This period also is giving us an opportunity to spend more time with our families. After all, families -- maybe for the first time -- are not having to divide and conquer their way through a relentless schedule of practices, games and summer school. We suddenly have time to talk about what meals to make together, to eat together, to play cards together and to just be together.

It’s easy to get lost in all the things we still don’t know about this virus. It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of Covid-19 studies and scientific papers that detail new information about its spread and related symptoms. It’s easy to get lost in stories about the precious time we lost earlier this year when the federal government failed to take steps necessary to seriously address the virus and show some kind of leadership or, you know, just lay out a game plan.

It’s more difficult to remember what we do have. And that’s each other. I’m trying really hard to remember that because … while we don’t know when this pandemic will end, we do know that it won’t be here forever.

Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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