The view from the Metacomet Trail in East Granby, Connecticut.
The view from the Metacomet Trail in East Granby, Connecticut. (Susan Bigelow / CTNewsJunkie)
SUSAN BIGELOW

It’s summer, and everything is back the way it used to be. You can go out, and have fun, and take vacations again. Say Yes to Connecticut; there’s no reason not to. Try some different things, get out and explore, be a human being again. Here’s six destinations that you don’t want to miss.

Soapstone Mountain, Somers: There’s a long, empty road you drive to get to the parking lot, sometimes with forest and sometimes with houses alongside it. It all seems so normal that you wonder if this place was touched by what happened at all. You park in the lot and put on the pink sneakers you haven’t worn since 2019, and hit the trail. You don’t have your mask on, and it’s nagging at you.

There’s another hiker on the trail, going the other way. He says hi. You instinctively hold your breath while you pass one another, holding up a hand in friendly salute. Why did you do that?

The trail curves upward as you pick your way gingerly over roots and rocks. You huff and puff your way about a quarter of the way up, and then you have to sit down for a while. Suddenly this seems like a really bad idea. Maybe you should have started with something easier; it’s not like you’re in shape anymore. But somehow you make it up to the top without your lungs bursting, and climb the wooden observation tower. There are people up there, laughing and talking. You can’t stay. There’s a paved road back down to the parking lot; you take that.

The Beach, Old Saybrook: There are lots of beaches, but you want one where you can go and sit on a rock and just look out at the Sound. It’s drizzling when you get there, but that’s fine. There are fewer people. You climb the rocks on the jetty and find one to sit on. You haven’t seen the ocean in so long, and you feel a sense of loss that you don’t want to examine. You try not to think about all the people who … No. It’s too much. We all have to move on, right? Everyone else is moving on. Why aren’t you?

Mystic Aquarium, Mystic: God, you’ve missed this place. The beluga whales, the penguins, the sea lions, all the fish, that place where you can feed the birds and they land on you, it’s perfect, you love them all. You’re excited as you pull up and wait in line to buy tickets. You remember waiting in line. It’s so novel that it’s almost a whole separate event for you. You tell yourself that you’re doing better, because here you are, going into a place with a crowd, just like before. You’re going to turn your pandemic brain off this time, for sure. 

There’s a woman with hollow, tired eyes in the line next to yours. She’s wearing a pin that says “Thank a Nurse Today!” You wonder about what she’s been through this past year. You can’t comprehend it. How could anyone who wasn’t there understand?

Traffic Jam, Windsor: You remember traffic. Back at the beginning of the whole thing, in May of last year, there was no traffic at all. You could just get in the car and drive wherever without worrying. Not that you had a lot of places to go, but when you did leave the house, it felt like the world had ended. Nobody was around except essential workers. You weren’t one of those. You think about how bad grocery store workers and delivery drivers had it, and you start feeling angry and helpless again.

“Come on!” you shout at the car in front of you. “Move!”

A Crowded Indoor Concert, New Haven: Oh, hell no.

Costco, Enfield: It all feels perfectly normal, right now. You go from aisle to aisle, and put things you want to buy in your cart just like a real human being. You wonder what you were so worried about. There were people doing this throughout, you remind yourself. They were fine. Right? Everyone wore masks, everyone was fine. Even the people who had their nose peeking out, or the people who took the mask off to talk, they were fine. It was all fine.

You don’t even react when you hear someone behind you loudly commenting on how he thought the whole thing was overblown. He didn’t wear a mask, and nothing happened to him! 

You want to scream, but instead you keep your head down, pay for your stuff, and get out of there. Once you’re back in the car, you just listen to the sound of your own breathing for a full minute.

It’s over, you think to yourself as you watch people wheel their carts to their cars. 

It’s really over. It’ll be okay. Really.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.