Midsummer Day Dreams

by Mieke Valk
inspired by the Goat Rodeo Allstars


Safe, but TRAPPED

Safe, in the house, at work, away from people, but still TRAPPED.  

So I Midsummer Day dream from safety, aching to go, but knowing I must stay.

It’s raining. As I sit on my porch, looking out over the golf course, I am transported back to Cambridge. The smell of green rain is heavy in the air. The 800 year old institute of learning emerges from cracks and corners and fields like none I have ever seen. Cambridge takes my breath away, both in its beauty, its knowledge, and its potential. We punt on the river, pint in as many pubs as possible, and explore ideas and theories with minds from all over the world. I would stay here forever, wrapped in tradition, history, and explosive thinking, all while drinking a pint where so many have before.

As I set up for another meeting on Zoom, the paintings on the wall behind me catch my eye. They are abstract scenes of Amsterdam, by my favorite contemporary Dutch artist that I discovered during my first trip to the city that captured my imagination. Amsterdam is always magical, but especially in the spring. Tulips emerge from the earth, vibrant, plain, fancy, too many varieties to count. The cool, rich air of kings and canals, tinged with the fragrant smell of marijuana slowly drifting through the air, is enchanting. Vincent and Anne are companions in this city that seems to contradict itself, but really just confuses visitors enough to forget equilibrium and live. 

I am cleaning, again. This time, I am tackling a large closet in my hallway where I keep things like winter coats, luggage, and beach gear. Looking through my swimsuits, cover ups, and sun protection gear, I find my tie-dyed batik headbands I buy every year on the annual girl’s trip to St. Martin, my favorite week of the year. Sun burnt skin, the smell of Hawaiian Tropic, and gritty sand fill the wind-up car we rented our first day on the island. The car, a small, four door variety characteristic of car rental places on Caribbean islands, barely makes it up the mountain we cross every single day on our adventures around St. Martin. Our favorite beaches, Cupecoy, Orient Beach, and Pinel Island, places we visit year after year on this trip, can be found on the floor boards and the seats; we never want to leave so we take them with us instead. The sweet drinks made of rum cooked on the rooftops of the shacks we have found never make it back to the car, although we should probably not be driving the car once those drinks are consumed. Like everything on this island though, it just doesn’t seem to matter much; the only things that matter are the sun, the ocean, the sand, and these girls.

New York City is on the news again. New York City has been on the news every hour of every day lately, and the city and its residents have been on my mind as a result. As a former resident, I recognize the resiliency that will be required of all New Yorkers to come through this pandemic, but I am confident in that resiliency. New York City is freedom. The chaos of the city, the random encounters with people you will never meet again, the bar is my living room, all give me life. Things can seem serendipitous in a city with so many people and so many places. The fall leaves in Central Park, cursing the black ice on the subway steps as you scurry to work in the winter, the flowers in the spring, and beers on the sidewalk outside my living room bar in the summer are scenes that I see in the New York City of my memories.


Safe, but TRAPPED.

Safe, in the house, at work, away from people, but still TRAPPED.  

So I Midsummer Day dream from safety, aching to go, but knowing I must stay.


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