THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2020 --
There's an Oxford shirt balled up in a corner of my closet and I've been meaning to take it to the cleaners. It's been there since mid-March when New York State locked down.
What's so newsworthy about a shirt that needs laundering? The absence of any other items needing a dry cleaner. More than three months have passed and nothing else even remotely "dressy" has found its way onto my body.
I am not, and have not been, all dressed up. And that's okay, I guess, since there's nowhere to go.
Welcome to the summer of 2020. Not all dressed up and nowhere to go.
This has been an apocalyptic week for people hoping to fly again soon. Leisure travelers. Business travelers. Any traveler. This is the week that we reaped what we have sown.
Word leaked out that the European Union's international reopening on July 1 probably won't extend to U.S. travelers. What the EU says isn't law per se. of course. Any of the 27 member states--not to mention their Schengen Area
allies--are free to ignore EC pronouncements. At the moment, however, Americans are to be avoided like the, um, plague. Very few countries seem interested in hosting us right now.
Australia and New Zealand don't want us, either. Just this morning, Qantas said it would not resume international flying for another year. It exempted its cross-Tasman neighbor, New Zealand, but, otherwise, a No Trespassing sign is out Down Under.
The New York Tri-State Area this week pulled a sauce-for-the-gander move. After being humiliated earlier this year by states such as Florida and Texas when New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, the New York Metro area now does not want visitors from states where the Coronavirus is raging again. Arrivals
from the states with high infection rates--including Texas, Florida, Arizona and the Carolinas--are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Hawaii did say this week that a 14-day lockdown for visitors will be lifted after July 31. But a replacement policy
begins on August 1. The Aloha State welcomes you without quarantine--but only if you can prove you've tested negative for Coronavirus within 72 hours before reaching paradise. Lots of luck getting a test. Despite the White House's repeated claim that there are tests for anyone who wants one, most of us still can't get tested. And if we can, 72-hour results are just this side of miraculous.
I could go on, but you get the point: Any place that you want to go this summer probably doesn't want you. And any place that wants you may not be worth the risk. I mean, if you thought New York City or Boston was too risky in April, the Texas Hill Country or the Outer Banks of Carolina are too risky in August.
Like I said, not all dressed up and nowhere to go.
The AAA says that Americans will take to the road this summer as a way to get away. Car travel, the organization estimates, will only be down 3 percent compared to 74 percent for flight-based journeys. So many people are getting on the road again that car travel will represent 97 percent of our summer holidays compared to only 87 percent during the last five years.
Every once in a while, I'm down for a good road trip. I got a Fiat 500 Cabrio and a Volvo C70, the best Swedish-Italian hardtop convertible ever made. (It's the only one ever made, but you get the idea.) Yet even road trips this year are problematic.
If you're in an area such as the Northeast that seems to have at least tamed Coronavirus, things remain generally closed. Movies and museums? Mostly nope. Stores and shops? Not so much. And food? In most cases, you'll be doing takeaway. Nothing is less summer-holidayish than a bag of takeaway eaten on the coffee table at the Hampton Inn or Courtyard of your choice.
And if you want to road trip in an area where the Coronavirus is raging, all I can say is: What are you thinking? Stay safe. Stay home.
But here is where it gets complicated. I live in a beautiful place. Staying home isn't much of a hardship for me. As Dylan once wrote, I live where the blue river runs slow and lazy
. I have hillsides where the flowers I planted are bloomin' crazy. I can look for old Honolulu, San Francisco or Ashtabula another year. I could stay here forever and never realize the time.
But so many of you may be stuck in a small apartment. Perhaps you have a young family whose time is literally irreplaceable and a summer holiday missed is a summer holiday lost forever.
Or maybe you need to visit relatives who, as McFadden and Whitehead once wrote, don't have so very long before their Judgment Day
. Maybe there are grandkids you need to teach the very best you can. Perhaps you're ready to build the new land we want to see and are frustrated you can't get to where you can help. Or just maybe time's running short for you and there are bucket runs you may miss.
I get it. For you, not being dressed up with nowhere to go is a bummer. This all sucks. Spring sucked. The summer is gonna suck. The rest of 2020 will probably suck.
I feel your pain. I'm sorry for you. I'm angry for you. I wish I could fix it for you. But I can't.
Not being all dressed up with nowhere to go, in the end, will work for me at least through the summer. Maybe it'll work all through 2020.
But if not being all dressed with nowhere to go isn't working for you, hang in. Stay tough. Stay strong. Be positive. Test negative. Get ready.
We will all fly again. I just don't know when.