In the 1966 Edward Albee play, “A Delicate Balance,” two neighbors come over to their friends’ house and ask to stay with them because they are frightened. They never explain what they are afraid of, but this fear permeates the whole play. It’s a very weird play in that respect and I never understood or appreciated it fully: except, I have found myself thinking about it often these days.
You might say to yourself, Lazer, you haven’t written in almost six months and when you come back, you write about being afraid? Well, kinda, yeah. You see I have been having these feelings for the past six months, and they are not all good ones. For instance, I am afraid that the great summers we have had since Sandy and the rise of the Rockaways are somehow coming to an end. And this was way before the announced closing of St. Camillus or the homeless shelter on Beach 101st Street.
And it is before the announced closing of several stores on Beach 116th Street. It has just been a generalized feeling that since the government built the boardwalk and implemented the ferry that they would come back and ask for their pound of flesh. I also get nervous with rising interest rates that people will get antsy about their homes and look to sell, move south and deplete the peninsula of great people. I see some of that already with some testing the waters in the winter months on a temporary basis.
I worry if our local, state and federal politicians are up to the task of true democratic debate to arrive at the best possible path forward. I worry that the technology that I watched take over the stock trading world and eliminate jobs by the thousands, will seep into other industries and eliminate the human from all processes.
Now truth be told, I am turning a special age next month and while a particular number never frightened me, this one does a little. Why, I have no idea. Maybe it’s because after a recent outing, and having a great time by the way, I limped for a week because the knee that was operated on three years ago became swollen and painful. Or maybe it’s the fact that every time I get a cut these days, instead of it healing right away, it takes weeks to fully heal. And don’t get me started about driving at night. At one time I had myself convinced that it was headlight technology that had changed, but now I suspect I may have been just fooling myself.
And then there are friends who tell me that they go to dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon to beat the crowds. Beat the crowds? You don’t live by any crowds! Or maybe the friends who simply don’t come out anymore at all. Why? I don’t know, I think they are afraid, to be honest. Or maybe the other friend who knows he has to do chemo treatment, but really doesn’t know what that means.
When I retired, I was full of vim and vigor, ready to conquer the world as I attacked a half a dozen projects at full speed and had a half-dozen more behind them. After having done the projects on the list and the trips I wanted to do, I suddenly realized, I don’t have a half-dozen projects on my list anymore, maybe only a few. What do I do when those are done?
Yes, I have good news on the horizon with a daughter getting married, and getting married to a great guy. And yes, everyone else in the family is doing just terrific, all working, living their lives, doing cool things. And yes, I am blessed to have my dad turning 91 this month and in full control of his faculties and driving faster than I do. So, there is nothing to fear there, only positive good things. So, what is it?
Well, I have come to realize that it is truly a delicate balance, and I must believe that the sun will conquer the dawn; that the spring will bring flowers through the snow; and that the ocean will once again be warm and inviting. I just have to have faith that Rockaway will endure. Or maybe just go south for the winter, these gray skies are killing me!