Man, It’s Quiet!
By Laurence Nokes
Thanks to Tyler Russell McCusker for offering me a guest spot for this week’s column. I support and hope for Positive Change.
There’s nothing like a pandemic to quiet things down. Solitude like this is rare in life. It typically comes at a premium. We pay dearly to escape to the mountains or the desert, or to another beach to find elbow room. Now, all the room we need is right here in our hometown. With the beaches and trails closed, the few who are out hit the streets as the substitute hiking route. It’s still weird to see the beaches physically fenced off, the roads closed to block access to trailheads, and storefronts shuttered. It feels as though the involuntary slowdown has also come at a steep premium.
The mark of a true champion is the ability to adjust. We have seen that trait in our local businesses. Restaurants selling groceries, some providing delivery. Conversion of full table service to take-out menus, with curbside pick-up to reduce risk. Food truck operations in Mozambique’s parking lot. Google your favorite local restaurant and odds are you will find creative methods they’ve devised to get their food to your table.
We all know the closures are necessary. The numbers of those afflicted with COVID-19 in California make the value of the “stay-in-and-lay-low” edict self-evident. But isolation is not worn easily or comfortably by the social. On Friday, a friend called who had attended a gathering in someone’s driveway, enjoying Thursday evening libations. The gathering was short-lived, rousted by the Laguna Beach police after a neighbor complaint, but it was fun while it lasted.
Over the past few weeks, countless such gatherings, however noncompliant, have occurred. Informal and hastily orchestrated reunions of friends and neighbors, muddling through compelled separation, and navigating the edict as carefully and conscientiously as possible, while not losing complete touch. Forced partition from our friends and neighbors goes against our instincts to live, to be involved with life – to live it, fully. To connect with other people, and to engage with the world around us. To be involved with that world and to do something—to matter.
I, for one, assumed that my Friday gatherings with friends at the close of the work week would simply continue to happen. Like you, I have my favorite places, and friends are just a call or text away. Of course, we would always get together and rehash the week. Until we didn’t. Until we couldn’t.
I hope these places and friends will be there when the isolation ends. In the meantime, we have technology on our side for staying close from afar.
I would urge you to be mindful that if we expect the places we love to be there for us, we need to be there for them. Patronize and support your favorite restaurants, bars and retail places in any way you are able. They’d be happy to sell you gift cards, one for each person you intend to meet there someday in the future. It isn’t easy for them to try to scrape through when they cannot open their doors for regular service.
Stay connected, be involved, and engage with your world. Stay healthy. Be kind. And do something. Matter.
In memory of playwright Terrence McNally, who died due to complications from the coronavirus on March 24, 2020.
Larry Nokes is a trial lawyer and a longtime resident of Laguna Beach.