"Coronalone". It's like "Home Alone", but without Macaulay Culkin. And without the burglars (we hope). It's our ridiculous name for the surreal and strange circumstances in which we currently find ourselves.
And we currently find ourselves approaching our twenty-third wedding anniversary, and lamenting the fact that we will be unable to hold our annual shindig as we have for most of the past twenty years.
Many of you will already know the origin story: we were married in a small ceremony— with only four attendees besides us and the J.P.— in front of the ruins of Goddard Mansion in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on September 16, 1997. We couldn’t afford a big wedding, we wanted to get married, and this was the solution. And it really was a beautiful day.
Fast-forward to 2000, at which point we had been living at the cottage for two years, and we decided it was time to have the “reception” we never had and invite all of our friends and family to join us at “The House in the Rocks”. We dressed up, we read our vows again for everyone else to witness, and great fun was had all through the afternoon and well into the evening enjoying good food and drink, the beauty of the lake, and each others’ company. It happened to coincide with the annual Steamboat Rally at Lees’ Mills, so we watched and heard steamboats out on the lake throughout the day, adding to the celebratory effect. How could we possibly let that be a one-time thing? It was so much fun that we clearly needed to make it an annual event, and so we did. For the most part. Except that year we were in the midst of renovations and, of course, this year, “in the time of Covid”.
Over the years we've braved inclement weather a few times, even holding a Luau in the midst of a remains of a hurricane that came up the coast; we've celebrated various pop culture icons and dressed up as characters from various books and movies; we've played games and raced pinewood derby cars; we've held trivia contests and awarded prizes for costumes; and we even turned our property into a summer camp for a day. It's been a pretty good run, so far.
It sounds a little narcissistic, doesn’t it, holding an anniversary party for ourselves every year? Honestly, though, it was really just a good excuse to get everyone together. We could have picked a different date and just had an annual party each year, but that first “reception” was so much fun, it just seemed right to repeat it. Besides, that’s always the weekend the steamboats are here.
I don’t think one can overestimate the value of connection with friends and family. The parties we’ve had over the years, regardless of how exhausting the preparation and cleanup can be each year, have fed our souls. It feels good to share this beautiful place with others the way my grandparents always did, and since with some friends it can be the one time we see them each year, it feels important to continue the tradition. What is more important this year, though, is protecting our loved ones as best we can. Getting everyone together only to potentially create new vectors for the spread of Covid-19 would defeat the whole purpose. Since asymptomatic spread has now been proven, any contact could potentially be dangerous.
I’m sure there will be some people who will think that, since our party is usually outside at the beach, we could probably manage to pull off a socially-distanced shindig. I guess the best answer I have for that is that it’s just not worth dying over*. More to the point, it’s not worth being the reason someone else might die. I know I couldn’t live with myself if I were the cause of someone else’s suffering, and I think that is an attitude that we, as a society, really need to adopt a little more seriously right now. There’s a whole lot of “well, but you’ve got to live your life” talk going on, and I get that, but at what cost? We will survive a year without the annual shindig. We will survive without our periodic trips to Portland and Portsmouth, our leisurely strolls through bookstores, and walks along the ocean. These things are luxuries, not necessities. (Trust us. We know a little about luxury vs. necessity, having lived for nearly two decades without running water at the cottage. You’d be surprised how quickly one can acclimate to a “new normal”. Does it mean we don’t want the luxury? No, but it does mean we know we can live without it.)
Honestly, it turns out that no-contact grocery pickups are preferable to weekly shopping trips, so I have a feeling we’ll continue those long after “the time of Covid” passes. And we will even survive without dinners out with friends or attending our musician friends’ gigs in person. What it would be hard for us to survive without is the knowledge that our friends and family— those loved ones we hold so dear and definitely consider necessities— are safe and healthy, and that we have done everything we possibly could to keep it that way.
Please do everything you can to stay safe. Please do everything you can to keep others safe, whether you know them or not. We love you, and we want everyone to be able to make it to our next shindig… whenever that may be.
*For anyone who does not yet understand (or believe) the specifics of why Covid-19 is nothing like the flu, or even pneumonia, this article on how it decimates the lungs— and consequently can cause heart failure— is a must-read: