Day 101: Phase 4

I was the only person wearing a mask this morning when I walked to the post box to send a birthday card.

We got bored of this pandemic. It’s not our problem anymore; let’s grab a cocktail.

During shelter in place, the city padlocked the playground in Welles Park. Every park posted bold-faced “PLAYGROUND CLOSED” signs to turn kids back from the swing sets and slides.

Crews maintained the park beyond the playground gates, but inside the gates, a riot of weeds grew taller week by week, nature run amok as the humans prioritized something beyond controlling their environment.

It was so quiet — almost alien — except the bold birdsong rising over the traffic from Western Avenue half a block away. Squirrels scampered. Rabbits roamed.

I loved it.

This morning, I walked past the playground. The “PLAYGROUND CLOSED” signs were still up, but the tangled vegetation had been hacked back and manicured to prepare for Chicago’s Phase 4 reopening later this week.

A couple sat at one of the tables inside, defying the signs, sipping coffees and eating their breakfast.

The signs will come down; the giddy shouts of kids on swing sets and slides will rise again. The crack of bats on the dusty baseball diamonds. The tinny echoes of live music bouncing off the apartment buildings nearby.

And I love those sounds, too.

But I’m not ready to go back to normal. Because nothing actually is.

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