As 2020 ticks on, I find myself daydreaming about being in JFK, my bags checked, the TSA pat-down concluded, walking towards my gate, knowing that soon I will be on a plane for an eagerly-anticipated jazz festival. Then the emotional mist clears, and I think, “Not yet, even if one is announced,” and I turn my thoughts to the local scene.
This is my local scene: the suburban apartment complex where I’ve lived for sixteen years. I no longer apologize for my nesting impulse, for the fact that I haven’t driven anywhere since March 24 (yes, I do start the car weekly) and that I spend hours in a triangular rotation of computer – kitchen – bedroom. This is as close as I can get to having a bosky dell, a garden, or a backyard, and it’s a consolation. And in this landscape where virus numbers often rise and rarely dip, it’s a good place to spend time.
I also love the song commemorating the pleasures of nesting. You may think of that vintage composition in connection with Al Jolson or Billie Holiday, but the lovely strains I prize happened right in front of my face, ears, camera, and heart on Thursday, March 12, 2020 — the last song of the last set of music I experienced in New York City (at Cafe Bohemia on Barrow Street) — a performance that, to me, would still have been transcendent had the circumstances been mild and predictable.
The noble improvisers here, the official uplifters, are Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet; Evan Arntzen, clarinet; Josh Dunn, guitar; Sean Cronin, string bass — with delightful visitors Kevin Dorn, drums (wire brushes and snare, to be exact) and Albanie Falletta, resonator guitar:
Why are tears forming in my eyes? They aren’t from despair, but from the effort necessary to sustain hope.
As for The Backyard, masked-and-prudent visitors invited. Transportation’s up to you, but I can provide iced drinks, unhealthy snacks, bathroom facilities, and gratitude. Two days’ notice, please. If I’m out, Maisie will take the message.
May your happiness increase!