Longing for Life Before Coronavirus
The other day I walked down the street on my way to get groceries. Previously, such a quotidian task wouldn’t catch my attention. But on this day — in the midst of a global pandemic — I found myself getting teary-eyed. Oh, how I missed just walking down the street without any fear.
Seeing the vibrant colors of the flowers on the sidewalk felt like I was in that moment of The Wizard of Oz where suddenly everything was in technicolor. I stopped to smell the roses (actually) and the fragrance was near intoxicating. It was marvelous. I felt mesmerized by the details I once overlooked. Then in an instant, I felt a pang of sadness for how much I missed my old life.
We are grieving collectively, the loss of what we thought was normal. Things we took for granted every day. Without a second thought, we always believed these things would be available to us. And now they’re not, for months, for an undetermined amount of time. It is like our quest for health and safety is at war with our basic freedoms and desires.
When this is over, I never want to forget how much I have. How much I have enjoyed things I have long taken for granted. The beauty in so many things. The things I miss seem to be an endless list…
I miss walking outside and feeling the crisp air pinch my cheeks. I miss when the sunlight hits my face and I squint a little, looking at the vast blue sky and eyeing the cotton-candy like clouds that I want to jump on.
I miss the familiarity of walking into a coffee shop and instantly smelling my drug of choice — coffee. I miss, like clockwork, gazing at the pastry section wondering if I should indulge my desires and get a croissant or a donut (always get the croissant or donut).
I miss being packed like sardines in a music venue, shoulders bumping against me. The mixture of sweat and beer assaulting my senses with the feeling of anticipation passing through my body, waiting for my favorite artist. I miss the feeling of intimacy, even in a crowd, even if manufactured, of live performance. Oh, what a sonic delight. The feeling is electric.
I miss traveling, to anywhere really. I miss wandering down streets and hearing new sounds in unfamiliar settings. I miss walking aimlessly, letting my feet slowly discover the world around me, while my eyes enjoy the feast.
I miss what it feels like to hug a close friend after a long absence. The hug, for a moment, reminds us that we are here together. That we are taking up space and marking memories.
I miss going to boxing when I’m in a foul mood and hitting the bags, releasing the pent up energy and anger that is festering. I miss seeing the same faces, doing ridiculous dances, and practicing my right hook.
I miss going to a bar or restaurant and chatting for hours with friends, losing track of time without a care in the world. I miss tasting new foods and new flavors.
I miss going to my therapist’s office, after walking for 30 minutes, and always starting the session with an “I’m tired” as I get situated on her couch. I miss the feeling of resolve I get when we’re done, as she closes the door behind me.
I miss going to the ATM to specifically get cash for street tacos. The feeling of cash in my hand, suddenly feeling richer than I am. I miss going to taco trucks and handing over cash, in exchange for something so iconically LA.
I miss going to the movies, wondering how long the previews are going to be and wishing the person behind me would stop talking. A predicament I’d invite any day for the luxury of escaping with the big screen for two hours.
I miss going on the train, seeing the cast of characters as we all go from point A to B.
I miss the mundanity of going grocery shopping, seeing the bountiful amounts of food and toiletries. I miss going without fear or panic.
I miss massages and the feeling of touch — before a six-foot distance became the norm.
I miss going to museums, together with others, but in silence, viewing pieces of art.
I miss going to a small jazz club, where you’re mere inches apart from the person next to you. You can hear the bellow emanating from the stage. The tickle of the piano or the moan of a trumpet. You can feel the vibration of the bass.
The things I miss are many and I long for their return. While I try to be patient and strong, I focus on myself and what I can control. I do things that make me feel good, like taking baths or listening to jazz or eating copious amounts of goldfish crackers or Ben and Jerry’s.
I am anxious about what the “new normal” will be. I don’t know what will happen, which only spikes my anxiety. I find solace in thinking that I’ve had a pretty good life, full of many adventures, experiences, and love. I am grateful that I am healthy in this moment. That is all I can ask for.