DeCordova Sculpture Park

I’ve had 52 birthdays in my life, and yesterday’s was by far the weirdest.

For many years I’ve had a tradition of going to the Museum of Fine Arts on my birthday, but since the museum is closed due to COVID, J and I reserved timed tickets for the DeCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA. It was a lovely change of pace, a chance to take a stroll on a gray day. I was enchanted by the stone cairns next to Andy Goldsworthy’s Watershed as well as an impromptu collection of wrapped and painted stones (“small hopes”) created by local children and wedged into the stone walls in the now-empty rectangle where Big, With Rift used to stand.

That was the normal part of the day, where J and I celebrated my birthday and relished the morning news that Rev. Raphael Warnock had won his Senate race in Georgia. As we wandered the sculpture park taking pictures, I occasionally glanced at my smartwatch, awaiting word of Jon Ossoff’s projected Senate win.

But then the day turned strange. On the way home from the DeCordova, J and I stopped at the bank to get a document notarized, and while waiting our turn with a teller, I saw a notification on my phone that pro-Trump protestors had breached the Capitol where Congress was certifying the Electoral College results. With the Capitol on lockdown and lawmakers evacuated, the certification was paused, DC was in chaos, and we spent the rest of the day watching the news in dismay.

Nothing I saw on the news yesterday was surprising: Trump has been encouraging rebellion since he lost in November, and it was widely known that right-wing zealots planned to gather in DC on January 6. But what was disheartening was the way security basically stood back and allowed riotous thugs to run roughshod through the Capitol. Apparently it’s easier to storm a joint session of Congress than it is to get through airport security or into a municipal courthouse.

And if the news out of Washington wasn’t bad enough, yesterday afternoon I learned a longtime friend had lost his week’s-long battle with COVID-19: a bright light extinguished on the darkest of days. While my heart already ached for America, it broke again for M’s wife and many friends, and for all the people who have died because some people’s definition of “freedom” ignores the simple responsibility of keeping other people safe.

So, yesterday was a strange day…and an even weirder birthday. By nightfall I was wrung out by a mix of emotions: happiness and small hopes, heartbreak and incredulity. After 52 years on this strange planet, I still don’t understand what possesses people to behave the way they do.

CLICK HERE to view an album of photos from yesterday’s trip to the DeCordova Sculpture Park.