Like many of you, I feel my life has shrunk over the past six months. Collateral damage of this pandemic. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this, but now it is resonating with a new spin.
There was a period yesterday afternoon when the sadness of all the personal losses and societal disruption (physical, social and psychological … exacerbated by the leadership vacuum in this country) brought me to tears.
Today I’m feeling better. Just typing these words helps. Writing and sharing my thoughts always seems to alleviate the pain. Yet, strangely, I have to constantly remind myself of this need to bring voice to my observations and worries.
I’ve been concerned about losing my voice … literally and figuratively. I’m not singing right now. I’m hoping that will change in the fall again with the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus. But it’s too soon to say. The wait may be longer. Much longer.
I also see what our current administration has attempted to do over the past three-plus years to muffle our voices, discredit the media and diminish our first amendment rights.
This isn’t the America I grew up in. But this is where we are now. Ugly. Divided. Fighting for our lives and our democratic existence. I can only hope there are enough of us outraged citizens, who will vote for a change in the White House in November.
Even in all the turmoil, Tom and I are managing to get by here in our Arizona community. We walk and swim before the heat rolls in. We wear our masks. We go out sparingly. To the store. To Walgreens for our prescriptions. I went to the Scottsdale library yesterday for a change of scenery.
I thought my mini field trip would lift my spirits, but when I saw all three of my books on the Local Author shelf it left me feeling sad and disconnected, because I remembered standing in front of my books at the Local Author Book Sale in February.
When life was different. When people could converse and share ideas in person. Smile. Shake hands. Hug even. I suspect it will be months (years?) before that will happen again.
In our shrunken sphere of influence, there is one other place Tom and I frequent. Echo Coffee, an independent coffee shop in south Scottsdale.
It makes us happy to go to Echo for carry out. We love their coffee, ice tea and delicious chocolate chip scones and feel good about supporting this local business.
We feel a personal connection to the place, because our friend Rob is the owner. He bought Echo in December 2019, just a few months before the pandemic descended on all of us.
Tom and I have watched as Rob has gallantly and adeptly adjusted on the fly to keep his business afloat and open, while refashioning the feel of the place to reflect his personality and values.
Rob donates one percent of all sales to an Echo Grant program that awards “ambitious and incredible creators the funding they need” … helping the artists and musicians in our community sustain themselves and thrive.
The sound of Echo is a quiet, comfortable, unobtrusive vibe … a coffee shop inspiring art, compassion and humanity … where local students, artists, musicians, readers, writers and caring citizens go for a cup of Joe, to reconnect with themselves, or chat with the friendly staff … even if it needs to be behind masks and at greater distances than before.
This morning Tom and I drove to Echo. We bought a few drinks for take-out. From behind our respective masks, we exchanged pleasantries with Lydia and Kallie. They were working the counter.
Previously, Rob told me he liked my writing. So, I told him I wanted to donate a few of my books to Echo. I handed Lydia a bag containing three of them, which she immediately added to the Echo bookshelf.
Though the tables at Echo are fewer now and spread out at more comfortable distances, customers can still pull a book from Rob’s shelf and read a chapter or two if they choose as they sip their coffee on a weary Wednesday or sunny Saturday.
For Tom and me, visiting Echo (as well as checking on Rob and his team) gives us an added purpose to our shrinking lives. Plus there is the satisfaction of knowing we are supporting a business we believe in, helping a friend in need, adding to the local artistic flavor of our community, and leaving an impression that will echo in a place we love.