Negotiating the End of Summer

Negotiating the End of Summer

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Welcome. We’re fast approaching Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer in the United States. For some, this means back to school, whether for themselves or their kids. Others may be heading back to their old workplaces after many months away. And some of us are hunkering down for another season at home, watching the light change, day by day, through the window of a home office, from a desk in a spare bedroom or a laptop lair in the living room.

I keep thinking of a peculiar sort of kaleidoscope. Tilt it this way and the cast of “Chicago” is rehearsing “All That Jazz” in preparation for a mid-September return to Broadway. Turn the kaleidoscope another way and there are parents, unsure about the risks of sending their kids back to in-person school. Here are companies tempting employees back to the office with newly installed beehives and outdoor terraces. There’s Apple, postponing its return-to-office date to 2022.

It’s dizzying, isn’t it? Trying to reconcile your own idea of what’s safe and what’s not with those of your employer, your school, your friends and family?

A friend commented to me this week that, at least with her friends, she’s gotten better at having conversations about masking and exposure, indoor and outdoor socializing. This, she said, is an improvement on where we were a year or so ago, when we were less fluent in Covid-era plan-making. It doesn’t mean that we all have the same comfort zones, but we’re better at talking about them. We can tick off the cafe’s safety protocols and our own concerns, then seal the deal for coffee on Tuesday pretty quickly. It’s not before-times easy, but it’s one little bit of common ground, a few words in a common language.

His distinctive drumming style — playing with a minimum of motion, often slightly behind the beat — gave the group’s sound a barely perceptible but inimitable rhythmic drag. Bill Wyman, the Stones’ longtime bassist, described that as a byproduct of the group’s unusual chemistry. While in most rock bands the guitarist follows the lead of the drummer, the Stones flipped that relationship — Richards, the guitarist, led the attack, with Watts (and all others) following along.

—From “Charlie Watts, the Unlikely Soul of the Rolling Stones,” by Ben Sisario.

We don’t always see eye to eye with our employers, our schools, our families and friends when it comes to responding to and dealing with the continued threat of the coronavirus. Have you found things that you and the people in your life can agree on? Has communication gotten any easier as the months have passed? How so?

Tell us: athome@nytimes.com. Include your full name and location and we might feature your response in a future newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a full and cultured life, whether you’re at home or away, appear below. I’ll be back on Friday.

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