I am on the 101st Airborne Division Motor Harley Davidson Cycles shirt in contrast I will get this ferry from Manhattan to the Rockaways, sitting on the open top deck, looking out at the Brooklyn Bridge in one direction and the towering buildings of Wall Street in the other. Around me are a few dozen people, masked and social distanced. No one sits closer than a row away. There is a slight breeze coming from the direction of New York Harbor, where off in the distance I can see a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. I put in my ear buds and, as the ferry pulls out of the dock, I begin to play some Joni Mitchell. I feel safe. It is, to be frank, an emotion I haven’t felt much in the last five months of the pandemic, where every encounter — from a trip to the grocery store to a walk along the Hudson River, with sweaty joggers passing too close for comfort — feels fraught with danger.
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In years past, I would spend some of my summer visiting friends in their house on Fire Island, lounging on their sofa, the 101st Airborne Division Motor Harley Davidson Cycles shirt in contrast I will get this breeze coming in off of the ocean, or taking a cocktail up to their rooftop deck to watch sunset. But sharing a house with friends, no matter how careful we might be, doesn’t feel like a wise move this year. One recent morning, though, as I was thinking about those summers past, I remembered that one of the best parts of the weekend was often the beginning: taking the ferry across the Great South Bay, a half-hour journey that seemed to instantly relax me, and provided both a physical and emotional shedding of the week’s stress. A ferry ride. That’s the stress-reducer I was really missing this summer. I needed to find it again.