Thursday, April 18, 2024


Letter: Seeing Old Westport in Our New-Normal

To the Editor:

I’m 22 years old, so I have the blessing of [feeling] like I know everything. But one thing I wish I truly knew is how Westport once was.

I’ve heard the stories of a Main Street filled with people and locally owned shops — the infamous pink book store at the end, or the hometown art supply store, or eclectic record shop. I hear stories and see pictures of these landmarks, but most importantly, I hear about the people who ran them.

I’ve heard about the kids playing with friends after school (when a fortnite referred to a time period), families spending the whole days together without any phones, and neighbors being neighbors — sitting outside and chatting about everything, and some days, nothing at all.

So I have to imagine that if this pandemic has given me anything (other than a sense of impending doom and the appreciation for good sourdough) — it’s the feeling that I have seen a glimpse of what Westport once was.

Since March, I met neighbors I never would have met; checking in with them as they checked-in on us. I was able to meet families going for walks or playing in the yard or the beach, many of them exclaiming that this would have never happened with their regular work schedules — so many of them never taking the moment to slow down and walk, with schedules that require a sprint.

I watched as people delivered supplies to the neighbors who may have been unable to leave their homes, made phone calls to make sure they had someone to talk to, donated precious PPE of their own, and I watched as people connected with each other more than maybe ever before — at least since the way Westport once was.

In a time when we are so afraid of other people, we became so confident within our community.

It’s September now, and I still watch as people sit under trees to get their work done. Just last week while walking up Wright street, I watched as kids ran from their houses after distance learning ended to lace up Rollerblades and grab soccer balls to get outside, off of technology, and play together. I watched today as random Westporters offered a full Rosh Hashana meal for a family expecting a baby very, very soon.

In a time filled with odd new normals — these wonderful moments are also part of our new lives. These moments are, what I can only imagine, are how Westport once was — and hopefully — will forever be.

Jaime Bairaktaris

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