Two decades ago a friend recommended that I read Tom Robbin's excellent book Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates. Aside from the antihero Switters and the three female characters who exert incredible force on his story arc, one character stands out in these days of quarantine: End of Time.
From the novel:
(Fer-de-lance had concluded that the shaman’s name could be more accurately translated to mean End of Future, or more explicitly yet, Today Is Tomorrow. Accent on the verb. Today Is Tomorrow.)Today is Tomorrow, because I started writing this on May first, then changed the first line to the seventh (after changing it first to the fourth), and now it's May the eighteenth. But it's still the same today it's been since early March. And it's this same day we'll live for the foreseeable future.
I push my daughter on the yellow swing in the front yard, and she lists the places she and I will visit "after the virus." In no particular order:
- Cross Street Market
- The pizza place
- The chocolate shop
- The coffee shop
- The bakery
- The playground
- The grocery store for pizza and sushi and big chocolate chip cookies
- Another pizza shop
- Yet another pizza shop
Her list makes me smile. It's a list of all the places she and I visited in the normal life of running between appointments, sprinting to the city for afternoon classes and having time to kill in Federal Hill. Running down the sidewalks. Never passing up an opportunity to pick up a few raspberry truffles and milk chocolate pretzels. She and I laughing in the market.
The time is passing, I think.
I lent my copy of Fierce Invalids to a good friend who offered his copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad in return. It feels like only yesterday when I made that trade. It was seven years ago.
Seven years, or a few months, maybe it was yesterday. It's all whimsy. We're all my grandfather now.