From Covid to travel delays, is there hope for a good summer?

From Covid to travel delays, is there hope for a good summer?

Timothy Hale had high hopes for this summer.

“Last summer was a nuisance,” said the 29-year-old hairdresser and freelance photographer, who is professionally run by Tim Hell. “I was hoping this would be the summer I could finally have fun.”

After moving to New York City from Baltimore in February 2021, only to find himself in his Brooklyn apartment in the middle of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, Hale spent this winter dreaming of ceiling mounts at Le Bain in the meat-packing district and Mr. Purple on the Lower East Side.

“I just wanted to be out and enjoy New York City,” he said. But that was not the intention.

For him, the first bad sign came in April, when it was shooting on the N-train, the same line he takes on weekends to work at a hair salon.

“It made everyone tense and scared of everything, and for me that was the start,” Mr. Hale said.

Then came June 24, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. As a black queer man, he worried that his rights could be taken away after comments from Justice Clarence Thomas suggested a new assessment of gay marriage. “It puts fear in my heart,” Mr. Hale said.

And Mr. Hale now has a new cause for concern: monkey pox, a virus that produces painful rashes and blisters for up to a month. His friends who have it “experience varying amounts of unbearable pain,” he said. Cases are increasing nationally, especially in LGBTQ communities, and vaccine supply is low.

Which gives him a sense of déjà vu again. “It’s starting to remind me of the summer of 2020,” he said, as everyone was stuck at home. Monkeypox is spread primarily through close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or sore, but it can also be transmitted through airway droplets (from sneezing or coughing) onto clothing or bedding.

Instead of going to clubs and crowded bars, Mr. Hale only socializes at home with people in small groups or on empty, diving companies.

“It’s my 30th birthday in a couple of weeks, and I probably just want a small, intimate dinner,” he said. “I would say on a scale of one to 10 to enjoy life, I have a hard four.”

Sarah Molina, 25, an event planner in Phoenix, was recently single this summer and could not wait to return to the dating scene. But the overthrow of Roe v. Wade changed that.

Not only did it disappoint her as a supporter of abortion rights, but it also made her feel that she needed to be more reserved during what was to be her “hot girl summer.” (Although abortion is currently legal in Arizona, the state has a law before Roe that bans the procedure even in cases of rape or incest. This ban was blocked in 1973, but the state’s attorney has said he will ask the court to allow the law to apply. in force.)

“I feel that women need to be more careful and more selective now in who they have intercourse with,” she said. “If something happens to contraception or your condom breaks, this could potentially be a partner stuck in your life forever, because now you have to raise a child together.”

Parents through the pandemic have not been any cakewalk, as you may be aware. But just as vaccines for children under the age of 5 are finally available, new fears are taking root.

Laurel Niedospial, 37, a stay-at-home mom in Oak Park, Ill., “Was very excited” for this season. “We moved at the beginning of Covid,” she said. “Right now we’re getting to know neighbors, and activities that were canceled are opening up.”

But the shooting on July 4 in Highland Park, less than an hour’s drive from her home, changed that, making her reluctant to visit a public place with her two children aged 7 and 2. “Even now she’s just going to the beach feeling so vulnerable, and with two children with different abilities, my biggest fear is that I would not be able to save them both,” she said.

In a way, she has concluded that “there is no holiday from our reality.”

Becca Near, 31, who works on development for the St. Louis Zoo, also feels uncomfortable taking her children, a 4-year-old and a 14-month-old, to the pool at the Jewish Community Center this summer.

“The other day, Mom and I were sitting there watching my kids in the pool talking about where we would go if there was a sniper right now,” she said. “It was a legitimate conversation we had.”

In addition, the new Covid variant and increasing case volumes weigh on her. “We still do not want to go to big celebrations,” she said, “or if my husband and I do, we will leave the children at home.”

“I do not know if this is the new reality of being a parent,” she added. “It’s constantly chaotic crisis thinking.”

Gone for Ms. Near and so many others, carefree days are spent completely outdoors: “We are not running playgrounds right now,” she said. “We find spray cushions, or we go for walks early in the morning.”

For many Americans, summer means travel, especially now that mask and testing requirements have been lifted.

But overcrowded airports and expensive tickets (in April alone, air fares rose by 18.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) have put a damper on these exciting plans.

“Before the pandemic, I traveled every summer since I was 18,” said Reginald Ajaa, 34, a health care administrator and TikTok influencer in Los Angeles. “Summer is the time to have fun and make memories.”

This year he had planned two trips with his fiancée: one to Dubai and one to Cancún, Mexico. But when he went to order tickets, they were too expensive.

His plan is instead to go to local beaches and festivals, but he must also be careful about how much he drives due to high petrol prices. “Filling my car used to cost $ 50 or $ 60, and now it’s over $ 100, which is ridiculous,” he said.

For some, stress has an easily accessible ointment: nicotine. (See also: prescription drugs.)

But one of the most popular methods of nicotine use now faces an uncertain fate. On June 23, the Food and Drug Administration announced a sales ban on Juul, the steamer. (An appeal is now pending, and the product is still on the shelves.)

Whitney Claflin, 39, a painter living on the Lower East Side, approached Juuls after she stopped smoking cigarettes. “It’s like my anxiety stick,” she said. “In the summer, it’s nice because you’re out more, and you can steam freely,” she added, adding that she used one on the roof while she talked.

When the ban was announced, she was frustrated: “It was just like this: ‘Come on, with everything going on in the world, is this what you’re going to choose?'”

Humans are resilient.

“There’s something called hedonic adaptation, and research shows that humans have a remarkable ability to get used to or get used to changes in our lives,” said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, who studies happiness. .

For example, if you get married, you may get a boost of happiness in the beginning, but it does not last, and you will return to your previous baseline. “What comes up must come down,” she said.

But the same goes for negative changes. If you experience disappointment that your expectations are not being met, you will eventually get used to it and feel happy again. “With most of the negative changes, we are able to get used to them and return to our previous happiness baseline,” she said.

As for this summer, Dr. Lyubomirsky suggested keeping company with others (which is also easier in the summer), saying that some studies show that any kind of connection brings joy.

“Everything we can do to connect joy with others is good for our happiness,” she said. “Even tying and connecting over the bad things can work.”

Dr. Lyubomirsky also said that something that is scientifically proven to bring more joy into our lives is to have gratitude for what we have. “Gratitude seems sly in a way, but research shows that it is very powerful,” she said.

This is a tactic Mr. Hale uses, as he is determined to make the most of this summer. “I’m new to New York, so even if I walk down the block, it’s a new experience for me,” he said. “I will make the best of every situation.”

Niedospial said that although she did not feel safe in public places, she had spent a lot of time with family and friends at their home. She feels relieved that her children seem happily unaware that their summer is anything but normal.

“My children do not have the fear and anxiety that I have been preoccupied with, so it always helps to see them play,” she said. “Nothing saves the summer like water balloon fights and ice sticks in the backyard.”

And for now, no one can take them away. Let’s hope.

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