Planes sounded different in the summer. Planes sounded different when the people you loved were far away.
You were sitting on an Adirondack chair, surface partly stripped of the blue color it had had for all time, face tilted back, arms flat against the broad wood.
You heard the approaching airplane and, a few seconds later, the echoing of the wires, hot in the afternoon sun, the air still and full. The wires zinged. Were they phone wires or did they carry electricity? The sound grew louder and merged with the sound of the plane, call and response. Question and answer. Plea and enigmatic reply.
Inside your head was the Glen Campbell song, Wichita Lineman. The sound of the plane receded. The zinging of the wires throbbed above your head. Did you need more than want? What did it mean to be together for all time?
Middle age, then a few packed boxes, some undefined number of minutes rushing for trains, a handful of hours charging cell phones, and suddenly you were on the threshold of old, possibly already crossing over.
Your shirt was stuck to the chair, flecks of blue paint clinging to your arms. The air was bent by the wind for just a moment and then all was still and hot and filled with longing. Rain would be arriving soon. Out there, somewhere in the vast flatness, was the Wichita Lineman listening to the sound of the wires singing deep inside his mind.
Anita Kestin, M.D., M.P.H. is a medical doctor with a varied career and gray hairs to match. For most of her career, she has worked in a traditional academic setting but for the past ten years she has worked as the medical director of a nursing facility, as a hospice physician, in the locked ward of a psychiatric facility, and in public health settings. She is also the daughter of Holocaust survivors, the wife of an environmental lawyer, the mother of wonderful grown children, a grandmother, and a progressive activist. She is attempting to calm her nerves during the pandemic by writing.