It’s February 12, 1964, and nobody in New York City cares a farthing that it’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The Beatles have just arrived in NYC, and frenzied Beatlemaniacs across the street from New York’s Plaza Hotel are losing. Their. Minds.
November 21, 1963
Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas
Jackie and Jack, Lady Bird and LBJ attending a LULAC (League of United Latin-American Citizens ) function
Anyone else feel awkward when the mariachi band comes by? You smile and nod when they sidle up beside your table, but of course you can’t sing along. You don’t want to eat while they’re playing, or resume conversation with your guests because that would be rude, so you smile and wait it out. Should you tip? How would you even tip when their hands are full? I’m trying to eat Combo #4. Please move along. I’ll enjoy it more when you’re 10 feet away.
Looking at this image of debris washed up along Galveston’s seawall as Hurricane Carla battered the coastline in September of 1961 made me reflect on the powerful beating our economy has taken in a period of only five weeks. Yesterday, my childhood restaurant closed, one where I have fond memories of eating gingerbread pancakes and broccoli sour cream omelets, washed down with iced hibiscus tea at the dawn of the 80s. It had an hour wait nearly every weekend for 40 years, and now it has no wait. Another trendy Austin hotspot folded this morning. So much for their lemon shrimp linguine. How can everything tumble so quickly?
Our favorite haunts are pummeled, as we stand helplessly by. So much for the Pleasure Pier.
The water keeps rising. The Mobil is inoperable, but we don’t need the gas because we can’t go anywhere. The Motor Hotel is flooded, but we’re not allowed to travel from home, so it barely registers.
Down is up, and up is down. Small businesses fold; delivery services soar. Horses stand on patios.
Boats prop tilted on the highway.
In the aftermath, we try to salvage what we can. Sift through the rubble.
What do we do now? We have no income. We have no idea if our jobs will exist when we return to them. How will we pay our bills? We don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. This stimulus check will barely get us through the next month on essentials.
So we cry and comfort each other.
We wonder if the lives saved by isolation outnumbers the lives lost by suicide, outnumbers the families left unfed and unsheltered, down to their last double digits in their savings accounts. And still it goes on.
But we can see the light. We can walk toward it. The world will once again re-open, battered and bruised, but hopefully more united, more focused on true priorities and aware of invisible dangers. Together, we will wade out.