Despite clouds and drizzle, we walk for close to an hour up and down the streets of Annapolis, Maryland. We encounter several people who are displaced from their usual routine of morning coffee at City Dock Café, Market House, or Starbucks. Wanderers looking for companionship while still keeping their safe six foot distance. “Any suggestions for an interesting street we haven’t seen?” an acquaintance asks us when we say, “Hello”.
A neighbor hails us while walking their two chocolate labs as we approach home. “The dogs must be so amazed at all the walks they are getting,” We chuckle. Our scruffy 9-year-old Labradoodle trails behind us.
A walk to the fields near the Middle School to play fetch with our dog, reveals that the playground is now closed. Yellow and black plastic caution tape is wrapped around all the equipment.
On sunny days, taking a stroll has become a game of weaving back and forth across the street to avoid close contact with everyone else seeking fresh air.
On sunny days, taking a stroll has become a game of weaving back and forth across the street to avoid close contact with everyone else seeking fresh air. This misty morning, a man severely coughing and walking towards us, mouth uncovered, had me worried enough to convert my walk into a jog. This is what our world has come to. We try to stay safe. We try to maintain a sense of normalcy.
Last Sunday, on our morning walk downtown, we stopped to admire the cherry blossoms in full peak bloom around Maryland State House. I turned around and across from the State House saw an array of furniture out on the sidewalk. Nice pieces: side tables, arm chair, and a middle-aged woman with a small pug on her lap stretched out on a gold colored chaise lounge. I looked again. The scene was surreal. Where did this furniture come from I asked myself. Surely not from inside the jewelry store they are arranged in front of. An upper apartment?
“If I could find your food, I’d give you some,” the woman said to her dog. It was cold and the woman was wearing a stylish hat and jacket, blanket laid over her legs. “Not the best day for a yard sale in Annapolis,” she said. “And I can’t find my cell phone.” Not wanting to start a conversation, we kept walking.
From the next block I hear, “Yeah, you don’t belong in Annapolis. Go back to the suburbs where you belong.”
Was she talking to us? Or talking to anyone who will listen?
I wanted to go back and tell her we live here, but kept walking. I remember the man with the cane, decades ago, I’d see struggling to make his way down the street. Some days I’d buy him coffee. And then one day he started yelling at me and tried to hit me and for weeks I took a different route, walked on the other side of the street. Crazy people can be unpredictable. If she needs help, she needs a professional.
This is not a good time for unstable minds. Stress and the variable possibilities of what lies ahead are scary. I wake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. The room feels hot. I kick the blankets off. I’m not running a fever. I check the heat setting on the thermostat. It is set too high—something I can adjust—unlike the current situation in our nation.