So much deprivation over the last year has left me feeling disconnected. The lack of a social life. The inability to go anywhere or do anything. Even eating in a restaurant seemed hazardous. Or hugging someone.
After attending a crowded art show opening in May, I kind of gathered the courage to venture out once more. Baby steps, of course. Simple things I once took for granted now seemed so fabulous. Inviting a couple of friends over for coffee and chatter. Swimming in another friend’s pool. Attending a lakeside yoga class. Admiring the shadows of clouds drifting over green mountains. Enjoying barbecue ribs and pulled pork.
Had to work this past weekend, but I’d be lying if i said it was a hardship. First, I had a meeting with a local government official. He was leading a tour through a magnificent Victorian mansion his city had recently acquired. The building was for sale and a local foundation purchased it and donated it to said city. A distinguished writer and artists once lived there. Now, this wonderful place surrounded by trees and an expansive lawn will be a place of activity. This official invited my organization to fill it with music, artwork and lectures. He imagined a lawn filled with picnickers enjoying the sound of music. Or artists discussing their works on display in one of the many rooms.
Me, on the other hand, while absolutely thrilled with this prospect, was just happy to be invited to tour the place. “Downton Abbey” came to mind as I noticed the buttons on the wall that, once pushed, summoned a maid. Or the view of the Hudson River from the third floor windows. Mostly, though, my thoughts drifted to having an excuse to meet and greet, to resume what would be a much more active life.
Afterwards, I headed over to a small venue where my place of employ hosted a music program. A singer performed for about an hour to an audience of several dozen. A small crew live streamed it on Facebook. Since the music played in a small barn, I stood outside and listened. Flowers blossomed everywhere. Birds seemed to harmonize with the singer. Everyone smiled, glad to be there.
Later, my sister and I headed over to a BBQ joint located on the Hudson. We had an outdoor table with a terrific view of the river, with the Hudson Highlands mountains on its western shores. Lots of Jet Skis and motorboats roared past, with the occasional sailboat drifting by. And if you glanced downriver, Breakneck Ridge and Storm King Mountain dipped their flanks into the water. West Point is located there and a few of its building poked out.
But what we noticed the most were smiles. Everyone wore one. I’m sure the BBQ ribs had a lot to do with it, but somehow it seemed more than that to me. The simple act of eating out seemed precious. Families and friends all seemed to enjoy each other’s company as music blared from the speakers. Some people sang along. Waiters bounced from table to table, carrying trays, taking orders. Even they appeared to be happy.
Could it all be that we missed all this simple stuff like eating out, hanging out, being out? Are we finding joy in not only heading out but being surrounded by those who share our spaces? There’s an energy, a tangible force field easily detected now that people are gathering again. Some, sure, are still wary, especially with Delta forcing its way into the scene (get that vaccine, folks!).
I still struggle with melancholia. I do live in my head too much. After a weekend of social activity, I’m realizing that the more I interact with people, the happier I’m becoming. Life is gradually becoming worth living again. I’m grateful for the simple stuff laid out in front of me. A reminder to appreciate what almost was lost, and to be grateful for what might yet to be.