Finley: Free as a cicada, and flying like one

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News
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No wonder cicadas make so much racket when they emerge into the sunshine after their long stretch underground.

I feel like shouting, too, having put most of the precautions and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic behind me and resumed routines that were suddenly stopped 16 months ago.

My mask is off my face and in my pocket, available for use in the few places where they’re still required. It’s nice not to be looking at the world through fogged up glasses.

And to not be carrying around a mental tape measure to calculate the distance between myself and others I encounter. I’ve noticed the people I pass on my walks aren’t swerving off the path as often to avoid entering my force field.

It’s not all back-to-normal yet, Finley writes. But things probably don’t look so familiar to the cicadas, either, when they pop their heads up and look around.

Of course, that may also be because I'm more aware of hygiene since I’m regularly encountering other human beings. When you don’t leave the house for days, it's easy to lose track of whether you took that shower this morning, or perhaps it was yesterday morning. Maybe the day before? Better check if the towel is damp.

As I reenter civilization, I’ve been taking inventory. Who and what has survived?

My laundry bag holds dress shirts that I last wore before the shutdown. It’s time to finally to take them in. 

But my dry cleaner is closed and looking through the window I see the equipment has been moved out. The owner, an older woman who worked long, hard hours despite poor health, caught the virus and died last winter.

The other nearby dry cleaning shops are also shuttered, reflecting the fact that nobody takes sweats, tights and T-shirts to the cleaners, and that’s all most off us have been wearing.

I met a friend at my favorite downtown bar the other day. I was relieved to see it was still open, but most of the old staff had moved on. A favorite isn’t the same without your favorite people.

It’s discouraging to see the words “Permanently Closed” stamped in red on the websites of so many bars and restaurants across Metro Detroit. Both longtime stalwarts and once-trendy hot spots locked their doors for good during the pandemic. Andiamo’s in Dearborn. Parks and Rec and Magnet downtown. Markovski’s in Dearborn Heights. All gone, along with hundreds of others.

I’d always wanted to drop by the haunted Waltz’ Inn downriver to see if the perch is as good as I’d heard and the ghosts as bold. Won’t happen now.

But it’s nice to know I can go to a Tigers game if I want and am welcome again at my grandkids’ various sporting events.

And in a couple of weeks I’ll be sitting at my old desk in my old office, seeing colleagues in-person for the first time in a year and a half, and meeting new ones who were hired during the pandemic.

It’s not all back-to-normal yet. But things probably don’t look so familiar to the cicadas, either, when they pop their heads up and look around.

From the sound of things, though, they’re sure happy to be above ground and free of their confines. Me too.

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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Watch Finley on DPTV’s “One Detroit” at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays.

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