If the universe bestowed upon me a cure for Covid-19 and a magical blimp to float anywhere, I’d float across the Atlantic like a monarch butterfly to milkweed.
My mother is from Calabria, a southern region of Italy where summer waves are delicate and crystal clear. My father is from County Louth, a part of Ireland rich with history and a spiritual connection to my ancestors. Growing up in New York City and being away from these origins, it’s disappointing to discover my usual longing did not prepare me any better for the lockdown.
In Astoria, our park along the water grants us a marvelous view of city lights reflected in the river. Witnessing the Queens’ equivalent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone forces me to dream of the Ionian Sea. When back in my small town of Soverato, I venture out with just my Speedo and goggles for eons. To observe fish is to feel bliss, excluding when beach-goers summoned the Italian Coast Guard last summer. They feared I drowned, so you can imagine all the signs of the cross (along with the scowls of two men from the Guardia Costiera) when I reemerged.
After my grandmother passed away last summer in Ireland, I can’t help but feel grateful it happened then instead of now. We were fortunate to have sent her off properly instead of social distancing. If I could go anywhere, it’d be to the land of lush greens to honor her one year anniversary. There, on the island where fairies hide in grass and castle ruins are plopped everywhere, I would be able to feel her again.
Now quarantined in the Empire State, a stolen summer of freedom and youth’s prime amplifies my own wonderlust. For 2020, holding my breath is reserved for too many people on the sidewalk, not for admiring Calabria’s aquatic realm. However, this is the greater good. Despite being grounded, I do find immense peace that not traveling to these places yet is crucial to protect them.