We needed the coldness of the open ocean,
we needed to feel the wind of Narragansett find every part of skin,
we needed to learn the meaning behind the name of the just-fine beer,
we needed to watch the sanderlings poke their beaks into the ground the waves left behind, real quick before the ocean came back, then skitter away as one,
we needed to run through a cemetery,
we needed to find ghosts between leaves,
we needed to learn that H.P. stands for Howard Phillips,
we needed to see that his grave is actually quite small,
we needed to find out that bumper cars on ice are not as exciting as you think they might be,
we needed to show up an hour early for our seven-and-a-half-hour train ride,
we needed to feel our bones cramp even on an empty train, simply from sitting so long,
we needed to learn how to eat dinner on a train in a pandemic,
we needed to shove bites of granola bar beneath our masks as quickly as possible,
we needed to discover that the face shields we bought had plastic peeling stickers we should’ve removed weeks ago,
we needed to see that face shields weren’t so bad once you removed the protective stickers,
we didn’t really need to do any of the above, but we did,
so we needed to come home to a military occupation.
We needed to walk through Union Station with ten police officers per pedestrian and a bomb-sniffing dog every few feet,
we needed to walk a mile to find a bikeshare station that hadn’t been shut down,
to become be too exhausted to celebrate the inauguration in any way,
to listen to the fireworks but not see them,
to remember the last inauguration, when the combat vehicles in our neighborhood imposed a quite different feeling,
we needed to take a long nap,
we needed to turn off our alarm clocks.
Then we needed our friend Jenny to remind us what homemade bread tastes like when done right,
we needed to feel hope again,
this normal feeling, so boring,
the feeling that news could be good news, Paris climate news, Keystone XL news, small things but good ones, things that had nothing to do with us, that we could celebrate all the same, alone,
we needed to recalibrate.
We needed cold, clear skies, brown grass, deep breaths, the dog of a stranger.