It’s been quite a week here in Provincetown, and that makes it difficult to know what to write about! We’ve had the annual Re-Rooters ceremony, the death of a community icon, and flooding, flooding, flooding…
And hard to see what they might all have in common.
For some of us, the exceptionally high tides and resulting flooding was a step removed, something we could watch on ptownie’s video and say, “ooh, ah” about. For others of us—including the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, and many people’s homes—it caused significant damage that will take months to drain, repair, and clean.
And then Richard Olsen died this week after a brief hospitalization. He was a friend, a longtime Ptown resident, and a local historian. Many of the memories recorded on Facebook’s community space were from people who had served him at various bars and restaurants over the years, when he’d commandeer a space and tell stories for hours on end. He will be missed by everyone who knew him, a true icon of Provincetown.
And on Sunday Jay Critchley braved sub-zero temperatures to offer the community the 35th Re-Rooters ceremony, purging the past year’s crimes and evils (and there were surely enough of them to keep the ceremony going for days!) and opening the community to what could, what might, happen in 2018.
And that’s the point, I think, that I’m meandering around to make. People came to the freezing-cold ceremony. People shared memories of Richard and mourned his passing. People responded to the UU’s pleas for help with its flooded first floor.
In the midst of a lot of darkness—darkness in the world, darkness in our country, even darkness as we think about the future of our own community—there is light. Every day is getting a little longer. Every time someone asks for help on local social media there’s a response.
We attract people like Richard Olsen and Jay Critchley, who make Provincetown a better and richer place. We attract people like those who offered their homes and firesides to residents without power during the storm (including, I am proud to say, ptownie’s own Michael Miller). We attract people who fret about the high cost of living here and want to do something about it, people who still manage to make art against all odds, people who care whether CVS or Amazon invade the town, people who keep the school and the nonprofit agencies and the year-round businesses going.
And despite what 2017 brought to us, these are the people who live here. These are the people who stay through flooding and loss and discouragement.
And that gives me hope.
There is so much here to celebrate. Every week we see people posting breathtakingly beautiful photographs of the Outer Cape on social media. Any one of us has the option of starting our day with a walk on the beach or in the woods. We can warm ourselves at a variety of restaurants and bars, have pizza delivered to our doors, catch up with others in our community at trivia games and SKIP lunches and thrift shops. Provincetown isn’t just gentrification and political squabbles and seasonal insanity: if the past week has taught me anything, it’s that there is hope. There is light.
A massage therapist in town once said, “Don’t look for the pain.” She was talking about something physical: don’t keep poking that tooth with your tongue, don’t keep feeling for that strained muscle. But it’s easy to look for the other kind of pain, too. It’s easy to see everything that’s wrong, and not enough that’s right.
This week, I’m looking for the light. I’m looking for the hope. I really believe that 2018 can be so much better than 2017. To quote the great Jean-Luc Picard, let’s “make it so!”