TWO WEEKS INTO THE QUARantine, I lost it.
Early one evening, as I was doing the dishes, “Night Moves” came on the radio. I have heard that song, by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, one million times, and I’ve enjoyed it each time. But on the one million and first, I cried. Not the sort of eye misting that’s easy to explain away. I openly wept. My wife walked into the kitchen to find that her husband had become the real-world avatar of the Crying Michael Jordan meme. I wrapped my arms around her and let my body go heavy.
I know what you’re thinking, and I agree: “Night Moves” is a terrific song. But it had never moved me to tears until that day. Not even close. This was grief. I was mourning the one million times I’d heard “Night Moves” before the virus came and changed everything. The song reminded me of when things felt normal, and I longed for that. But this was also catharsis. I was letting go of a bygone world so that I could start moving toward whatever comes next.
Most forecasts for the “new normal” depict a world of masks and Plexiglas, six feet of separation and vigilant handwashing. I’m ready for that, but I’m not looking forward to it. Instead, since the night I sobbed over “Night Moves,” I’ve focused on the moments of joy that I hope will evolve into new traditions.
Before the pandemic, not once did I eat a weeknight dinner with my two young daughters, because I returned from the office too late. Now we eat together every night. I want this to continue.
Every weekend for the past several weeks, I’ve joined my college friends on a Zoom call. We’d never done this previously. Now I can’t imagine a world without it.
I find strength in the mere thought of observing these rituals after the quarantine lifts, and after the virus is subdued.
The way we make a magazine has also changed. This issue’s cover subject, John David Washington—who stars in the summer’s most anticipated blockbuster, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet—was photographed at home in Los Angeles by family friend Dominic Miller (while observing all the necessary safety protocols, of course). In the absence of a full crew, Dominic captured John David with a unique intimacy, which you can see on page 44. Elsewhere in the issue, you’ll find pure escapism—like the behindthe-scenes, hour-by-hour account on page 82 of the night in January 1985 when the decade’s greatest singers gathered to record “We Are the World.” (Most of them, anyway. Prince wasn’t there. Nor was Bob Seger.)
On page 54, we’ve revived and updated a classic Esquire feature, “What I’ve Learned.” This time it’s “What We’re Learning”: twenty perspectives from across the country on how the virus has changed people. Participants include Washington governor Jay Inslee, Jimmy Fallon, an ER physician in Georgia, a wildlife veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo, and a funeral director outside Detroit. Perhaps the most resonant words come from an eight-year-old from Indiana named Katie. “Mostly, I’ve been sad,” she said, “but then I get really happy.”