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These are anxious times. Working at The Ivy, seeing and talking with you, brings me comfort during the day. I do what I can to avoid triggers before bedtime: no doom-scrolling, no reading saved NYT and WSJ editorials, no listening to too thrilling thrillers from my Libro account.
I’ll let you in on a secret: I subscribe to The Baltimore Sun for its obituaries. Not for their literary quality and not for potential real estate listings. I look for and hope not to find your names or thumb-nail high school portraits.
For the past six months, without Ivy foot traffic, if I haven’t seen you on my daily constitutional around Lake Roland, at Eddies, Grauls or Trader Joe’s, I haven’t seen you. I’ve been left to my own devices peeking through slitted eyes at The Sun’s documentation of Baltimore’s dwindling population, aka the obituaries, dreading a find, hoping for a miss.
I enjoy sharing good news to brighten our difficult days. What I’ve found: the Towson Chamber of Commerce and the Towson Creative Partnership selected local artists to reclaim graffitied flower boxes to beautify their downtown. A small luminosity, I know, but I take pleasure in its cheering, rosy glow.
I seek relief all week, the kind I can share with you. I locate some about homes lost and found.
Sharp, smart, strange and darkly funny, Luster by Raven Leilani has nothing to do with the world I live in. A young Black woman engages in an erotic relationship with a middle-aged white man, becomes homeless, is invited to move in by his white wife, and mentors their adopted Black daughter. Teetering on the edge of too muchness, Leilani crafts metaphors that are vibrant and insightful with floating sentences about loneliness that magically stretch on forever. I generally avoid stories pulled from headlines because they don’t breathe on their own, but this one sashays right off the page into a new room in my head.
Family is all. When I don’t have access to my own, I look for windows to peep through—a literary voyeur if you will—generations of secret-keepers and dream-chasers preferred. I find two emotionally nuanced family sagas: Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz and Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland. Both are character-driven, take-my-mind-off-my-distanced-family historical fiction. Both have enough grace and compassion to plug the holes of my leaky Mama/Grammy heart. I am satisfied.