Prior to the global pandemic, I had imagined a summer of stories about my Hallmark in Real Life adventures. I had planned for it to start with a trip to Guatemala, akin to Hallmark’s Pearl in Paradise, and then add a chapter to my first Mistletoe Inn story when I attended the writers conference in Boston (see post here). After that, I would fly to Montana to spend time on a horse ranch, a la Hallmark’s A Summer Romance.
Needless to say, the pandemic put the brakes on my plans (quite literally: I was flying back to New York City less then 48 hours after I touched down in Guatemala, in order to escape before the boarders closed).
Keeping up a blog devoted to living out elements of Hallmark movies in Real Life is challenging when adventures in Real Life are curtailed, but all hope is not lost. I am finding that there are still adventures to be had, just ones a little closer to home. In fact, I’d say these local adventures are all the more special. Finding beauty in the everyday and looking around with fresh eyes to appreciate what’s right in front of me has been a gift.
The simplest of summer joys is a barbeque, and the Irishman, whom you may remember as my sidekick on my hot chocolate crawl through NYC (see post here), has miraculously found a way to host a barbeque safely. To those who live in the suburbs or in areas with lots of space, this craving for a barbeque might seem basic; you can probably have one every night in your backyard without a second thought. However, in the city, outdoor space is a luxury and very difficult to come by.
When the Irishman discovered his roof deck for the first time, he shared the news via a photograph of his perfectly cooked burger set against the backdrop of the NYC skyline. After he tested out his newfound outdoor space, specifically the grill, he was ready to host so others could enjoy a burger with a view, too.
No one is anxious to hop on the subway these days. Although it is the hallmark of New York City transportation, being in a confined space underground in close proximity with strangers is just not something I’ve been willing to test out during a global pandemic, so walking to the Irishman’s building was my best option. Another friend and I made some side dishes and met to walk uptown together. However, we hadn’t made it far when the melted butter drained out of a pan of corn on the cob and got all over my friend. We pulled over and whipped out our Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer to clean her up (thanks COVID), and we had just resumed our trek when suddenly the skies opened up. We couldn’t help but laugh. We were certainly clean now!
Despite the initial storm, the sky cleared, and the evening of great company, good food, laughter, seating at a social distance, and even a movie projected onto the rooftop wall felt like the first time I’d done something socially normal in months. After safely enjoying a BBQ, it was easy to say yes to another for the Fourth of July, complete with social distancing, masks, and other important things like s’mores, burgers, and, of course, fireworks. In fact, this was one of the most special fireworks shows I’ve ever seen, because at moments it felt like they were exploding just for us. No matter which way we turned, the sky was bursting with color in every direction. At times it felt like we were close enough to touch them. And with fireworks surrounding us, we projected Hamilton onto the rooftop wall and basked in this perfect summer moment. (The irony was not lost on me as we all enjoyed watching a story about one of the country’s early founders—an immigrant himself—that I was the only American in this international group of friends from Ireland and South Africa. That’s New York City for you!)
I hope you too are finding ways to create special summer memories during this most unusual summer.