Pandemic Summer

Summer 2020

I overpaid for that lobster roll. It was a delicious lobster roll, but they charged us for the novelty of eating one in Cape Cod. My trip to Cape Cod over the summer was one of the few times I got out of Boston. Opportunities for travelling and eating are limited in this pandemic, and even with money, I find myself wondering about the ethics of travelling during a time like this. 2020 was supposed to be the year I visited another country that wasn’t in Europe. I’ve been lucky to work during the majority of this pandemic, so I’ve stayed busy. Without work, I’d spend my days miserable about my dashed travel plans.

I’ve escaped Boston a few times since March 2020. Over the summer, my friends and I picked a Saturday to drive to Cape Cod. A few weeks previously, we’d roadtripped to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where we stayed at a house on the lake.

It was a holiday weekend, so we had to wait over an hour just to cross the Mackinac Bridge. It was worth the wait. The water below was turquoise, and it surrounded us for miles. It’s a lengthy bridge, so we had plenty of time to try to capture the beauty on our iPhones. Then once we reached the U.P., we drove past the touristy towns and the cute villages for a long time. It was nice to be far from everything (except the pandemic).

My friend’s family lived in the U.P., so I was lucky enough to ride in a boat on Gooseneck Lake, a small lake nestled deep in an unincorporated community, Wetmore, which was part of Munising Township. The roads were alien in the woods, and I wondered who had lived there before.

The people who lived there now celebrated Independence Day by taking their boats for a parade. I rode in the humble boat belonging to my friend’s family. I was celebrating in the middle of a pandemic on a boat, and I felt safe. 

But then I saw a boat flying a MAGA flag, and I felt a little seasick (though not as seasick as when I threw up coming back from the Aran Islands). The dock that belonged to them was easy to spot, with its MAGA hat wearing group of people. Today was their day to celebrate the possibility of four more years of this holiday with that criminal as the president. 

The houses on Gooseneck Lake were beautiful, though water creeped higher and closer to them than it used to, according to the family member operating the boat. Here these people were, about to lose the land they’d claimed to the climate change done by this country. And their “solution” would just make it worse. 

My friend’s grandfather, a local, brought us the newspaper. Her family’s ideals aligned with ours, so he knew we’d be interested. A concerned citizen had taken out an ad, stating that the 2020 election would be the most important in his life. “This election will be between communism and FREEDOM,” he’d written. My friend did a dramatic reading of his typo-ridden ad, which went on to talk about how the democrats wanted to ruin the country with their socialist Green New Deal, gun confiscation, drugs, open borders, etc. 

It was ugly.

But the land itself was beautiful. We drove across the peninsula, blasting music with the windows down and singing along as the wind whipped through the car. The deep blue water came close to the road along the coastline. Along with the houses on the lake, it would be destroyed by the rising water levels predicted by scientists. 

Like the virus that prevented my travel plans, U.S. citizens contributed to the problem. I contributed to the problem. Corporations contributed to the problem. It’s miserable to think about, so instead I choose to laugh (although there was a lot about it that made me sad) at the typo Trump ad. 

We made the most of our time in the U.P., detoxing from our phones and city lives. This country is almost 250 years old, and like Whitman, it contains multitudes. Hopefully this summer I can visit somewhere less infected with Trumpism. It will be difficult to find somewhere as beautiful as the U.P., though.

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