Sunday Afternoon Pandemic

Adria Bernardi

Sunday afternoon, there was a strangely familiar coincidence of sensory and emotional experiences; about one in the afternoon, I closed the door of the bedroom, exhausted in this strange way, of these days, from stress, worry, from anticipation, and also from the work of staying healthy, on course, active, but-not-overly-active, alert, and yet not knowing what to be alert for, exactly, on this glorious day of spring, the scent of clove-scented viburnum, the new-green of the tulip poplar against a strangely not-Tennessee-blue sky. Planting, moving, cleaning. Planning meals. And what I experienced was the comfortable sparseness of the bedroom. Of our bedroom with the high ceilings. The old, dark furniture.  It was of course an Italian room, a French room, like others I’d known. And then, the sound of voices outside the window, right next door; the neighbor has tenants again, displaced from the tornado, and the tenants, whose house was demolished in the tornado, had visitors. They were all spaced out, one sitting on the metal staircase on the driveway side of the house, others on the front lawn, two on chairs in the gravel driveway. Background sound. Open window. Sunday afternoon. And no, no television. No radio. No sports. It was the quiet of my childhood, visits to grandparents, when there were voices outside, and the day still stretched out long, the afternoon and late afternoon long, before evening put the week back in motion. The spacing of these sounds, the distance of the neighbors’ voices.  Indistinct conversations. Only the rising and falling. An occasional phrase. This is how sound should be, in my mind: the spacing of the houses, the open windows, the sidewalk out in front. This is why the sounds sounded strangely familiar. No car traffic. Or very little. The neighbors set in their own spaces, and the other sounds so distinct, birds, because the leaves of the trees are only now emerging, and sound travels, not absorbed yet by the leaves in the trees. A cool, darkened room. And voices outside. The inhabitants of this house each in his own space quietly absorbed or resting. It is not the same as childhood, although it reminds me of it. Yet it does signal a way to stay well: here is what matters, what’s real, what replenishes. Here is how they set it up. The fatigue, however, a kind of mind fatigue, brain fatigue, does not match the memory, even as it recognizes respite. The slow pace of eating cut-up cucumber in oil and vinegar. Tender leaves of lettuce. The piece of bread. I cannot do too much.

BIO: Adria Bernardi is a translator and author of a collection of essays, two novels, a collection of short stories, and an oral history.

adriabernardi.com

meandrina.com


Photo from Wikipedia.

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If you enjoy these travel stories, please donate $5… We’re committed to remaining advert-free and so your support makes all the difference. Thanks again.

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If you enjoy these travel stories, please donate $5… We’re committed to remaining advert-free and so your support makes all the difference. Thanks again.

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