My cell phone rang. It was our daughter-in-law Lourdes. It was about 8:15 at night. She was driving in Key West with our granddaughter Audrey. They don’t usually call this late. It was quite late for Audrey as she is just 7 ½ years old and would need to be up for school in the morning. That would be the case under normal times. But … as we all know these are far from normal times. They are surreal times. These are the kinds of times that will redefine a generation. Make that generations plural for … there were three on this phone call. Lourdes often calls using the Face Time app when she is with Audrey. Her grandmother and I are very happy to have this new means of technology that allows us precious times watching her grow up. Even from the distance over one hundred bridges make. For there are that many bridges between Miami and Key West. I crossed those bridges for the first time in 1971. I was with three other wandering spirits back then. We had come from Central Illinois in a Ford Econoline Van that had seen much better days. A mutual friend had escaped the long winter a few months before and ended up at the last possible patch of earth in the contiguous United States. With each bridge on that moonlit night I felt I was being drawn toward a mystical destiny for which I was fated. Now … nearly forty years later and Lourdes was driving from the area of the island where the small Key West airport is to Old Town to pick up Justin, her husband, our son. She was a bit too early as to collect him and take them back to their home, so she called us. I turned off the movie we were watching and with her phone and soon we traveled back in time.

It was as if a spell were cast. She held the phone out the window. Audrey was unusually quiet as she sat in her chair in the back seat safely fastened in. Lourdes drove around the streets of Old Town. With the lockdown due to the coronavirus everything was vastly different in Key West. Different from what it has become. I watched the streets, houses and businesses as we rolled by remembering much of it all. But after just a bit I realized I was remembering Key West from the way I first encountered the Island. Back then, except for a very few blocks on Duval Street it was a quiet place at night. As she drove we could hear the palm leaves swishing in gentle winds off the Southernmost Point as she slowly rounded that corner an onto Whitehead Street. And there was not a single person at that place that just weeks ago was pummeled with tourists day and night. Not now. It was easy to look out over the gently shifting waters of the Florida Straits and see the twinkling stars above the land and waters. Even from a cell phone. We didn’t speak much. We just let it flow in a magical carpet ride way. A family in a time traveling moment due to this invisible contagion which is circling the earth at a whipsaw pace leaving legions for dead. Yet for these minutes where we rode and looked out her car windows, we felt a kindred peace. Audrey must have sensed the ‘grown ups’ were in a mystical place and she instinctively drank it in. We are often so busy that everything passes us by. We cling to the maddening rush of modern life as if it is our only course. But in this death and sickness now all around us our hurtling ‘progress’ has been ripped away and we are left now with only each other to hold on to. But we can’t. Not in the physical way that we crave. But we can in the way humans can, through our intuitive ability to feel the vibration of another. ‘Social distancing’ might be here to stay a long time. But as we rode in the moonlit peacefulness together … forty years and three generations breathed a collective, marvelous, wordless


‘Thank You God’.




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