I know what you did last summer. Nothing! That’s what we all did last summer. The 2020 Summer-of-Diddley-Squat. Not this year.

The pent-up demand for fun and travel is obvious. On a recent flight to Orlando, there were many families, a lot of Disney luggage and well-behaved kids (like helping with the dishes on Christmas Eve). One of them was on his first airplane ride ever. A flight attendant announced this after we landed – a celebrity on the flight … little Johnny so-and-so. We gave him a big round of applause.

Even without travel, I’m sure most people are like me – eager to do ordinary things without life-and-death risk. Adventures like grocery shopping without a mask and hugging my friends when we get together. These are things that I hope I never again take for granted – especially the hugging.

We really need the calming reassurance of physical contact with other humans. It helps us feel connected. Hugging is the very best way to greet and part with others you love.

Many of us have learned new things while we’ve been locked down. Cooking and overeating have been understandably popular. I may be the only American who still hasn’t made sourdough bread, which is a little disappointing because I love the stuff. I’ve been doing some painting (on canvas) and while a lot of my creations are evidence of “much room for improvement,” I have marveled at the fact that I have actually improved. Learning new things as we grow older is a wonderful thing. Perhaps next year I’ll go to medical school, but for now, collage is pretty satisfying.

My best exercise in personal growth, I think, has been surprising to me. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at the acquired skill of not sweating the small stuff. It’s been a trying time in my family, especially the last several months. My father passed away last week and this event has been very stressful for all of my siblings, our kids and (more than anyone) my step-mother.

As we all went through this process (which was made quite difficult by my father’s late stage dementia) we were reminded of something we learned when my mother passed away, almost exactly 10 years ago. When it comes to the big, most important things, we drop the intramural squabbles that all siblings can be prone to and we stick to getting the job done for our parents when they cannot speak for themselves – just as they did for us when we were kids. In this exceptional life experience, there’s no do-over.

Our society tells us that it’s important to give ourselves and our children a good life-one of security and love and positive experiences. We aren’t trained in how to give our parents a good death-one that’s peaceful and without pain. We don’t talk about this enough with each other and with our kids.

So waiting for traffic, a line at the grocery store or airport security where time is consumed but little else interferes with my daily life, these are things that I can just sigh and let go… for now. I’ve been waiting for many years to hear the news that Coach K is retiring. Carolina may revoke my degree, but I wish him well. We’ll look back on the last 40 years or so as a golden age between UNC and Dook. It will be exciting to learn the new ways that we can cheer for the next generation. Life (and basketball) goes on.


jean bolducJean Bolduc is a freelance writer and the host of the Weekend Watercooler on 97-9 The Hill. She is the author of “African Americans of Durham & Orange Counties: An Oral History” (History Press, 2016) and has served on Orange County’s Human Relations Commission, The Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina, the Orange County Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, and the Orange County Schools’ Equity Task Force. She was a featured columnist and reporter for the Chapel Hill Herald and the News & Observer.

Readers can reach Jean via email – jean@penandinc.com and via Twitter @JeanBolduc

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