From Covid to travel delays, is there hope for a good summer?

Timothy Hale had high hopes for this summer.

“Last summer was a tease,” said the 29-year-old freelance hairstylist and photographer, who goes by Tim Hell professionally. “I was hoping this would be the summer I could finally have fun.”

After moving from Baltimore to New York in February 2021 and then finding himself holed up in his Brooklyn apartment amid the Delta variant of the coronavirus, Mr. Hale has spent this winter dreaming of rooftop parties at Le Bain in the meatpacking district and Mr. Purple on the Lower East Side.

“I just wanted to be outside, enjoying New York,” he said. But it wasn’t meant to be.

The first bad sign for him came in April, when there was a shooting on the N train, the same line he takes at weekends to get to work at a hairdresser.

“It made everyone tense and scared of everything, and for me that was the start,” Mr Hale said.

Then came June 24, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. As a black queer man, he feared his rights would then be taken away from him after comments by Judge Clarence Thomas hinted at a reconsideration of same-sex marriage. “It puts fear in my heart,” Mr Hale said.

And Mr Hale now has a new cause for concern: monkey pox, a virus that produces painful rashes and blisters for up to a month. His friends who have it “experience excruciating pain in varying degrees,” he said. Cases are rising nationwide, especially in LGBTQ communities, and vaccine supplies are low.

Which again gives him a sense of deja vu. “It’s starting to remind me of the summer of 2020,” he said, as everyone was stuck at home. Monkeypox is transmitted primarily through close skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or sores, although it can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets (from sneezes or coughs) on clothing or skin. bedding.

Rather than going to crowded clubs and bars, Mr. Hale only socializes in people’s homes in small groups or in empty dive establishments.

“It’s my 30th birthday in a few weeks, and I’ll probably just have a small, intimate dinner,” he said. “I would say on a scale of one to 10 for enjoying life, I’m a tough four.”

Sarah Molina, 25, an event planner in Phoenix, was newly single this summer and was eager to get back on the dating scene. But the annulment of Roe v. Wade changed that.

Not only did this disappoint her as a proponent of abortion rights, but it also made her feel like she needed to be more reserved during what was supposed to be her “hot girls’ summer.” (While abortion is currently legal in Arizona, the state has a pre-Roe law that prohibits the procedure even in cases of rape or incest. This ban was blocked in 1973, but the attorney general said that would ask the court to allow the law to take effect.)

“I feel like women need to be more careful and more selective now who they have sex with,” she said. “If something happens with your birth control or your condom breaks, that could potentially be a partner stuck in your life forever because now you have to raise a child together.”

Parenting during the pandemic has been no easy feat, as you may know. But just as vaccines for children under 5 are finally available, new fears are taking root.

Laurel Niedospial, 37, a stay-at-home mom in Oak Park, Ill., “was very excited” for this season. “We moved at the start of Covid,” she said. “We’re just getting to know neighbors and activities that had been canceled are opening.”

But the July 4 shooting in Highland Park, which is less than an hour’s drive from her home, changed that, making her reluctant to frequent a public place with her two children, aged 7 and 2. feels so exposed, and with two kids of disparate abilities, my biggest fear is not being able to save them both,” she said.

In a sense, she concluded that “there is no vacation from our reality.”

Becca Near, 31, who works in the development of the St. Louis Zoo, also feels uncomfortable taking her children, a 4-year-old and a 14-month-old, to the pool at the Jewish Community Center this summer .

“The other day my mom and I were sitting there watching my kids in the pool and talking about where we would go if there was a sniper right now,” she said. declared. “It was a legitimate conversation we had.”

In addition, the new variant of Covid and the increase in the number of cases are weighing on him. “We still won’t go to big parties,” she said, “or if my husband and I do, we’ll leave the kids at home.”

“I don’t know if that’s the new reality of being a parent,” she added. “It’s a constant chaotic crisis thought.”

Gone for Ms. Near and so many others are carefree days spent entirely outdoors: “We’re not doing playgrounds right now,” she said. “We find paddling pools, or we walk early in the morning.”

For many Americans, summer is synonymous with travel, especially now that mask and testing requirements have been lifted.

But crowded airports and expensive tickets (in April alone, airfares rose 18.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) put a damper on these exciting plans.

“Before the pandemic, I had been traveling every summer since I was 18,” said Reginald Ajaa, 34, a healthcare administrator and TikTok influencer in Los Angeles. “Summer is the time to have fun and make memories.”

This year, he had planned two trips with his fiancée: one to Dubai and one to Cancún, Mexico. But when he went to book tickets, they were too expensive.

His plan is to go to local beaches and festivals instead, but he also has to be careful about how much driving he does due to high gas prices. “Filling up my car used to be $50 or $60 and now it’s over $100, which is ridiculous,” he said.

For some, stress has a readily available ointment: nicotine. (See also: prescription drugs.)

But one of the most popular methods of nicotine consumption today faces an uncertain fate. On June 23, the Food and Drug Administration announced a sales ban on Juul, the vaping device. (A call is currently underway and the product is still on the shelves.)

Whitney Claflin, 39, a painter who lives on the Lower East Side, turned to Juuls after quitting smoking. “It’s like my anxiety stick,” she said. “In the summer it’s nice because you’re more outside and you can vape freely,” adding that she was using one on a rooftop as she spoke.

When the ban was announced, she was frustrated: “It was just like, ‘Come on, with everything going on in the world, is that what you’re gonna choose to choose?'”

Humans are resilient.

“There’s something called hedonic adaptation, and research shows that humans have a remarkable ability to adjust or adapt to changes in our lives,” said Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology. at the University of California at Riverside, which studies happiness. .

For example, if you get married, you may have a happiness boost at first, but it doesn’t last and you will return to your previous baseline. “What goes up must come down,” she said.

But the same goes for negative changes. If you are disappointed that your expectations are not met, you will eventually get used to it and you will feel happy again. “With most negative changes, we are able to get used to them and return to our previous happiness baseline,” she said.

As for this summer, Dr. Lyubomirsky suggested keeping each other company (which is also easier in the summer), saying some studies show that any form of connection brings joy.

“Anything we can do to connect joy with others is good for our happiness,” she said. “Even linking and connecting on the wrong things can work.”

Dr. Lyubomirsky also said that something that is scientifically proven to bring more joy into our lives is having gratitude for what we have. “Gratitude sounds a little hokey, but research shows it’s really powerful,” she said.

It’s a tactic Mr. Hale is using as he’s determined to make the most of this summer. “I’m new to New York, so even though I’m walking the block, it’s a new experience for me,” he said. “I will make the best of any situation.”

Ms Niedospial said that although she did not feel safe in public places, she spent a lot of time with family and friends in their homes. She feels relieved that her children seem blissfully unaware that their summer is anything but normal.

“My kids don’t have the fear and anxiety I worry about, so watching them play always helps,” she said. “Nothing saves summer like water balloon fights and Popsicles in the backyard.”

And, for now, no one can remove them. Hope.

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