Light at the end of the tunnel – Something good happened in Erie, 4/24/2020

Carlos Manuel, employee of Sara’s Restaurant at the foot of Peninsula Drive, prepares for another season. | Photo from Greg Wohlford, Erie Times-News.

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good stories of the week:

Sara’s opens for season on Thursday

Most of Presque Isle State Park reopens

Wolf: Northwest PA one of first areas to reopen May 8

Three good news stories in one week! Here’s why: I just needed some damn good news and figured I wasn’t the only one. I’m tired of staying at home even though I still have the privilege of leaving for work. I need some sense of normalcy – or at least something to move in that direction – before I and my entire family descend into madness (and know that with more kids in our house than adults, a majority of us are already there).

I’m tired of leaving each morning knowing that my newly-unemployed wife will be homeschooling our kindergartener while also addressing our one year old’s newfound love of mountain climbing (or coffee table, end table, kitchen table, etc. climbing) while also keeping our four year-old from feeling left out. To come home from work these days is to be made to feel like a conquering hero by one swarm of waist-high noise machines, and like a life raft to one set of beautiful, tired eyes keeping our home running. I know she can’t do this for much longer.

Now, she would never say that, even to me. She’ll keep posting to Facebook whatever Pinteresting activities she cooked up that kept our children occupied that day, and it’ll look like we’re all crushing the quarantine. We are not. We’re fine, don’t get me wrong, but even that is part of what makes this hard.

We’re healthy. We’re doing ok financially. Though my job is “essential,” I’m not working in a hospital or anywhere at a particularly high risk of infection. We are grateful for all of that.

Still, when the kids go to sleep and we get those couple of quiet hours to ourselves, there’s this malaise that we can’t shake. There are no pending events making us look forward to the weekend. No events on the calendar at all. We had one of those drive-by birthday parties for our nephew a couple weeks back, and even that was kind of sad – yelling “Happy Birthday!” out the window from the road to the five year-old best friend of your kids who’s standing in his front yard eating a cupcake in the snow instead of being hugged by 15 people.

Which reminds me: it doesn’t help that this April in Erie has looked more like a December. When you’re all out of ideas for occupying your kids’ time in the house and you can’t drive anywhere, the thing you want to see the very least is Month Six of winter.

So that’s why I was more giddy than normal for some good news this week, and the annual opening of Sara’s always qualifies. It’s a guidepost telling you you’re on the way to a warm breeze blowing some Presque Isle sand in your face while you suck down a giant milkshake. It is coming. That will happen.

Speaking of that Presque Isle sand, the beaches are no longer shut down! Since the pandemic will force Sara’s to open for takeout orders only, what a perfect time to open up the beach.

Finally – finally – the last, best good news of the week is that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) expects northwest PA to partially reopen in two weeks. Two more weeks! That’s going on our calendar, for sure. I should emphasize that this will be a “partial” reopen (still no large gatherings, gyms, theatres, etc.), but hey, it’s something.

My plan is to treat this reopening as our reward for the accomplishment of successfully dealing with the distancing. We’re doing it. We’re almost there. We will get some normalcy back. When we do, I am going to take that Sara’s milkshake out to a Beach 6 sunset on the first warm night we get, and it’s going to taste like the purest victory.

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