Head in the Clouds

I’m back in Metro Atlanta now, in the still of morning — my crops freshly drenched from on overnight storm, birdsong punctuating the air — but my head is still in the clouds from my trip to and from New York City (including an unexpected layover at an airport hotel following mass cancellations of flights).

Last year, I never thought I’d be able to take planes, trains and buses ever again (this 20-seconds was inconceivable to me even just recently).

I wondered if I would ever see my 88-year-old dad (shown waving near the end of that video) and stepmom again. If I would ever see my beloved NYC. How it would all feel. What would matter, and what wouldn’t. I wondered how the pandemic changed places and people. How it changed me.

A lot happened this week. I underestimated the impact of some things, including the palpable pain I would find in NYC, grief on its sleeves from the intensity of its COVID experience.

I underestimated my ability to see certain realities and be truly, intensely present in the day-to-day lives of my elders.

I underestimated what it would mean to me at this precise moment to be able to cross a certain bridge (on CitiBike) that I had crossed years before with a bike I had bought with my very first tax return. A bridge I had tried to cross several times in recent years and had chickened out for numerous reasons. A bridge with angels on it. That story feels big — transformational — and I’m not yet ready to tell it.

My younger daughter will be up in the clouds tomorrow, coming home after her junior year of college in Boston and following a month visiting her sister in Los Angeles. My daughters (whom you first met in my books Bucket List and Food for My Daughters) are both bold, independent women now. They are crossing their own bridges. My husband recently retired from his career as a federal prosecutor and is facing exciting new bridges as well.

My head may be in the clouds for a while. I am not overstating it when I say a lot happened that I need to process. In the meantime, I have some new profiles coming up of people making it more welcoming to ride bikes at this crossroads of change. At this bridge to the future that we collectively face. At this historic call to rise above the clouds and see what’s really possible.

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