Welcome. When friends ask how it’s going, these days, what do you tell them?
How are you? How’s your summer going? What’s new? First-gear questions, small talk, perfunctory niceties to get the conversation rolling. But lately, they trip me up. How is the summer going? Whatever my estimation on the current day, one thing stays constant: It’s not going how I thought it would.
So I read Kaitlyn Tiffany’s latest story in The Atlantic, “It’s August, and No One Knows What Kind of Summer It Is,” eagerly. “Summer 2021 seemed slippery, though, even before the Delta surge began,” she writes. “From the start it was weighed down with too much significance and too many narratives — too much rushing to live too many different ideas of normal life.”
The summer and the future were indeed freighted with significance. They seemed to announce themselves as a promise and a challenge. For many of us, it was if we had been posed Mary Oliver’s famous question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?,” and the possibilities, if not endless, were at least far more numerous than they’d been in a long time.
In the past few weeks, in the United States and other countries, things have changed. Restrictions have returned, masks are back on, plans are back off. If you’re having a hard time synthesizing all the new information, you’re not alone. If you’re having a hard time answering simple questions about how it’s going, perhaps because you’re not entirely sure, you’re definitely not alone.
What about watching something transporting this weekend? Consider the animated film “Vivo,” with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s on Netflix. “The White Lotus,” about a bunch of people on vacation at a resort in Hawaii, is very good.
Grill some chicken. Make Dorie Greenspan’s strawberry mini-cakes. Write down or type up what’s happening, so you have a record of it. Send it to me, if you like. It’s always so good to hear from you.
Even if you can’t get there in person, the online experience of the Jewish Museum’s exhibit “Louise Bourgeois, Freud’s Daughter,” about the artist’s experience with Freudian psychoanalysis, is well worth your time.
The perfect At Home and Away story: “Why Is It So Hard to Say Goodbye to New York City?” It’s about New Yorkers who moved out of the city during the pandemic and are trying to recreate the things they love about it in their new hometowns. Check it out.
And my brother sent me a link to the perfect At Home and Away song: “Is happiness on the highway, or is it parked in the driveway?,” asks Miranda Lambert in “Settling Down.” I’ve got it on repeat.
A simple question: How are you? Tell us: [email protected] Include your full name and location and we might feature your response in a future newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a full and cultured life, whether you’re at home or away, appear below. I’ll see you next week.
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