Brooks & Crowley - June 2020

Review Brooks & Crowley

June 2020

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‘WE’LL BE VERY HAPPY TO SEE EACH OTHER’ Neil’s Reflections on Our Current Times

One day in late March, I went to the grocery store, and a young high school kid was stocking shelves while wearing a mask. I asked him, “Are you used to wearing the mask yet?” He seemed to sigh and replied, “It only took me a couple of days to get used to it.” He looked around and continued, “What I can’t get used to is seeing everybody else in a mask. It makes me think that something’s really going on.” I could tell he’s a very bright kid. My friend and I had been talking about a convict that was released recently. The man was a bank robber. Before they were closed to the public, banks required everyone to wear a mask. I have to wonder: Will that convict walk into a bank and think, “Huh, this place is already full of bank robbers!” or, “Why’s the competition so stiff these days?” This isn’t a complaint about wearing masks — safety and taking precautions couldn’t be more important right now. Ultimately, I think the young man at the grocery store and I are wondering the same things: What the heck are we going through, and how long can this last? In a literal sense, of course, we know exactly what we’re going through. The pandemic has been hitting Boston particularly hard, with national coverage focusing on every aspect of our battle against COVID-19. My heart, and my family’s hearts, aches when I hear the terrible stories of what’s going on around us. Being healthy right now, we know we have it lucky.

My kids seem to understand that this is going to go down in the history books, and they’ve been pretty patient about it. Maybe it’s because they have plenty of time to tease me about my TV habits — or lack thereof. I used to only watch one or two movies a year. Diane and I recently started watching “Ray Donovan” on Showtime. Whenever we play an episode, the kids will chuckle, “Are you binge-watching again, Dad?” Except I only ever watch one or two episodes at a time, while my kids could probably watch several in a row! They have convinced me to watch family movies like “Frozen II” lately. As a dad, I’m happy we’re all spending more time together. It’s just easier to do certain things more frequently. I’m teaching my 15-year-old how to drive in empty parking lots, and our daily family dinners actually include the whole family. Usually, my girls’ sports games or practices would keep us busy and apart. These days, we have enough spare time to eat dinner and put together puzzles, some with 1,000 pieces. That would’ve been hard to make time for before. Now? We get to take time to notice all the details. I get more time to notice the details of my life and the lives around me, too. I notice that seemingly everyone is on social media more than before. I’m not on Facebook, so I can’t peek into other people’s lives. When I think of social media, I’m reminded of Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” This couldn’t be truer now, when some people rely on social media to communicate with others. Imagine you’re having a great day, then you go on Facebook and see somebody having a better day. Whenever I

hear someone going through this, I try to lift them up by joking, “ Now your day wasn’t so good? It was fine five minutes ago!” While I keep up with family and friends through group texts and phone calls, I also prefer not having a Facebook account. I’d rather hear news about your life by you telling me and getting excited for you right there and then. Once this is over, I think we’ll be very happy to see each other. I know I will be. I love spontaneous conversations and learning something new about people. I never knew how much I’d miss walking into a busy bar or restaurant. Going out and meeting people I know by happenstance used to be part of my routine. I hope that by the time you read this, Boston will be a much safer place. I hope you and yours are holding up well, and I can’t wait to see you in person again — even if we’re still forced to wear a mask and bump elbows. Until next time,

–Neil Crowley

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