I Was Losing Faith in Humanity, So I Organized a Block Party
It’s summer, which used to mark the time of year when I exhaled. I grew up in San Francisco, where summer meant wind and fog, but it also meant the end of school and 10 precious, stretching weeks of freedom.
When I discovered that most working adults don’t get summer vacation — unlike my parents, who were teachers — I was shocked and appalled. But as a working adult in Portland, Oregon, summer came to mean a different kind of freedom.
Freedom from drizzle and low gray clouds, freedom from rain boots and hoods, freedom from encroaching darkness. Summer meant slow mornings and long, bright afternoons. We emerged from our dwellings like animals from hibernation, squinting against the sun.
But these days, I find, summer is shedding its formerly carefree skin, evolving into a different beast entirely. An ominous beast, fraught with disaster. Summer now means droughts and wildfires and triple-digit temperatures. It means canceled plane flights and ruined vacations and stretches of time spent holed up in the house because the air outside is swollen with heat and smoke.
There is little respite these days from the relentlessness of the world. Frothy articles about beach reads and watermelon cocktails seem hopelessly out of touch, relics of a bygone era. Don’t the authors know there are glaciers melting, wars raging, pandemics spreading, inequalities widening, murders spiking, mental illnesses rising?
It would be easier to concentrate on the beach reads if all of that were happening “over there.” No matter when you tune in, the news is mostly bad. But now there are gunshots within earshot, wildfires lapping at our feet. It’s all getting closer. It’s all closing in.
That’s why I decided to organize a block party. It’s not because I’m in denial. The futures of my children hang in the balance, but there are still days to fill. My kids still need a childhood.
What else can I give them, at the end of the day?
I don’t particularly love attending parties, and I like organizing them even less. In fact, hosting social gatherings causes me acute anxiety. I’m…