For a few minutes on a lovely, unseasonably warm November day, I step out of my car at a park out of an urge to be near other humans…To be momentarily connected to strangers without any interaction.
With paperwork in hand, I perch myself sidewise on a bench between a walking path and playground, leaning my shoulder against the backrest. With the halfhearted intent of getting a bit of work done in the beautiful afternoon air, I feel stumped. I’m simply not feeling it.
In what would otherwise be a social setting, I observe everyone around me separated and keeping to themselves. Singles, couples, and all the way up to a whopping four humans in some cases, participating in their own private corners, like small clusters of distant light in the universe.
Some groups or singles wore masks, others didn’t, but all kept their distance. Unless they arrived together, no one got closer than about 10 feet.
I watch as four children play on the playground, but only with their siblings or parents. Each child cluster on a completely separate play equipment set than any other cluster. Not crossing paths. Not interacting like kids normally would. And I, myself, avoiding sitting on the swings or climbing across the bouncy rope bridge that I normally wouldn’t think twice about.
Some people are walking their dogs, others walk or jog. Two people play tennis with each other at the tennis courts beyond the playground and another shoots hoops on his own.
It’s not a terribly unusual weekday sight, but not quite normal either.
I wonder if my strange version of seeking out some human connections is truly useful, or if it just leaves me longing for something more…human.
I have been enjoying the world while I keep working, keep busy, talk to people through machines, work on my garden…
I practice self-care as often as I can… or remember to.
I have my bubble of humans that I get to interact with physically. Close family, it’s small, but often enough.
Phone calls, Zoom, and other distanced social behavior helps fill in some of the void.
What really brought me here today was the prospect that we are only a week out from Thanksgiving and a month from Christmas.
I know that the Earth will continue to do its thing and keep turning, and we will move forward with it and find a place with safety, connectedness, and vaccines ready for the masses. I realize next years’ holiday season will likely be as usual and uplifting as those of the past. Maybe more so because of this year.
But this one…for this one, I will need to be content with spending it with a limited crew, and attempting to digitize a portion of my world and holiday time to include as much of my normal holiday relationships as I can.
I imagine it makes me ponder why these particular events hold so much more importance to us…to me. Is it the shorter days? The cold that keeps us indoors more? If in the southern hemisphere, would I feel the same? Is it the winds blowing in seasonal scents and thoughts? The need for the hugs/touches/just plain human interaction…not at a distance?
Why should the world suddenly seem just a bit harder to manage in the pandemic now than earlier? My own routine hasn’t changed that much from then to now. Though my holiday plans will be different.
Maybe it’s all of that, maybe it’s none of it.
Sitting here watching people continue to do their thing…exercise, talk, even the children playing, I expect that even this strange holiday season will bring its own light and beauty into the world.
And So…here I sit, on a bench in a park. Alone. Watching strangers pass by at a distance as the sun peaks through the clouds, and I am beginning to look forward to what promises to be an odd, interesting, and creative holiday season. And I smile at the promise of the future that will come beyond, with the New Year.