Season 2 Final Episode: Waving Goodbye to Summer with a Monkey Fist

The day before school starts again, and so concludes season 2 of Jamdemic 2020. A sunny August Sunday ends summer, not with a bang but a whimper.

Monkey Fist = Gateway to the Future.
(Still not a big fan of monkeys, though.) 


We Lindsays are sliding the screen door on summer at a borrowed beach house painted perfect shades of Coastal Boring. Weathered-silver shingles and white trim, the gatekeepers to misty blue, minty green, buttery yellow, comfy cream, and airy white. I love it for its relief from our own jewel-toned Shabby Chic, an offbeat, maple-canopied paradise that quarantine has reinvented as Oppressive Bohemian. Our only getaway of the summer, this sandy-floored cottage is just fifteen minutes from our downtown loveshack, and it'll do. Back home, sidewalk-rescued midcentury modern is offset against soul-deep turquoise, lifeblood red, and raincoat yellow, but it's time to change the dressing on that pandemic wound. After the spring and summer we had, I hereby reinvent Coastal Boring as Seaside Clean. Fall is for five gallons of white paint, a clean canvas, and a "Gnomaste" garden statue on clearance at the Christmas Tree Shop. Why not. Isn't China struggling too. 

Tomorrow, it's back to school. Back to Mom as Teacher, Wife as Musician, Colleague as Faux Online-Guru. What a delight was summer, when it was Old Me as Writer, New Friend as Texter, Poet as Poetry-Hater, Dog-Walker as Musician, and Somewhere Else Is Surely Better, and By the Way I Didn't Catch the Virus.

Teacher friends are writing to their kids and families from their teacher accounts on social media: It's Back to School! We're Going to Make It Great! I Can't Wait to See You! And they mean it. Can we also admit that July and August are among the greatest rewards of teaching? They are not the only rewards: Transforming lives through education may sound trite, but it's real. It is uncontestably precious to the teacher and the student. What else could possibly matter more in this world? Teaching music is love in the form of a pencil, a method book, a saxophone reed, a battered bottle of valve oil, a repaired violin string. Hot Cross Buns: Kindness and generosity incarnate.

It's been so long since I've seen my daytime kiddos in person—my budding musicians—that I have nearly lost touch with that visceral joy, that tear-jerking pride a music teacher feels when a group of 65 kids sits there on a variety of instruments and makes something, together, that actually sounds like music—and you, the teacher... you taught them all. 

Holy beautiful. 

That will be nice to feel again, and maybe it will dissolve the stress built up before things fell into place for the coming year, not easily forgotten. How would we manage our kids three days at home on a hybrid schooling schedule? We can't afford to live on one teacher salary alone. Can we afford private school? Do we want to? Who will watch the kids? Did I look for other jobs that might be fully remote, as one way to address the pandemic's many pressing challenges? Rachel, Keri, Mary: I'm sorry. I did. There have been interviews. But I have said no-thank-you in the end. Money is only one kind of reward. Spreading music, especially now, is perhaps of greater value. 

So, tomorrow. Back to that school thing and whatever this year will bring. Small, intimate music lessons in a tent, and then a winter of special one-on-one creativity studies that only this unusual school model could allow. That sounds doable, and soon it may also feel inspiring if I could just see a bit better through the semi-sheer curtain of uncertainty. A second wave of Covid-19? Another closure? And... what exactly will we do during the tenting off-season? We'll figure it out. And I'm confident it will be good. 

School begins in rusted brick, but the beach remains in shades of grey and silver, steely blue and bottle green. At home, we can probably paint over that turquoise, luscious though it has been. White is nice, and it will be a much better backdrop for the monkey fist I'll bring back as a souvenir to rope together the unprecedented past with the uncertain future. What the heck is that ropey ball anyway? A monkey fist, eh? A tether. A tool. A volley to the future; not a weapon. And certainly not a wrecking ball. 


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