I love Anne Tyler’s quick wit, her storytelling, and her quirky characters. I first became aware of her work when I moved to Baltimore in 1987 and read The Accidental Tourist, a beautiful and complicated love story between a travel writer and a dog trainer. The novel perfectly showcases Tyler’s ease with developing relationships between her characters and making them feel completely authentic – and in many cases, very Baltimore. The Accidental Tourist was my introduction to Anne Tyler, and I have eagerly read every single book she has written since.
I was in a Baltimore relationship at the time myself which resulted in marriage, children, dogs, more dogs, and also included the Orioles, the Ravens and crab feasts. (To this day, I still cannot understand the appeal of whacking a steamed crab with a mallet to get a tiny sliver of backfin, when you can just eat a crab cake, but that is another story.)
Jim and I moved to the Eastern Shore four years ago this summer and sometimes we still feel like tourists discovering new places. Now that Maryland is in Phase II, the past few weekends we have done some first-time things close to home like picking strawberries at Redman Farms and getting crabs from Billy’s. It is always fun to visit someplace new or try something different, and being a tourist can be heartwarming and exhilarating.
Shankar Vedantam, journalist, writer, and science correspondent for NPR, and the host of Hidden Brain whose reporting focuses on human behavior and the social sciences, recently said, “Periods of disruption invariably lead to invention and reinvention. When chaos strikes, we all become tourists in our own lives. We start to see with fresh eyes, and when we do, we realize the world really does have endless possibilities.”
This has resonated with me since a colleague shared it. Being an accidental tourist in our own lives as we navigate the intersection of two pandemics, COVID-19 and systemic racism, has helped me reflect on the most important parts of myself that I need to keep at the fore when we get to the other side of the disruption. For me, I know it will lead to more learning, listening, conversing, and understanding issues of race. The most important thing is where we go next, because without a doubt, we do have endless possibilities.
As a school leader I am thinking about both of these disruptors this summer as we develop plans to re-open and think about curriculum. I am also reflecting upon my word for the upcoming academic year. There are endless possibilities.