Day 503, August 2, 2021

Precarious

Today's soundtrack: The Stanley Clarke Band, Jazzwoche Burghausen, 2016

Today was the first official day back to work. I rode the new to me e-bike as planned. The morning ride was a little damp from last night's rain, but warmer than I anticipated. I could have shed my jacket and pants, but I kept them on and just unzipped the jacket so I could feel the cool damp morning air billow around my body.

A blue heron perched atop the Student Union.

It is nice to discover new vistas, and right when I rode up to the edge of campus, I crested a hill and was gifted with a beautiful view of the campus, the iconic library, and the distant hills. For all the uncertainty of returning to work, it was a beautiful vision, something one could imagine striking awe into a travelers heart. Perhaps, in a few months time, this view will be something I see every day and maybe it will lose its sense of distinction. But for now, I feel like I will pause every ride when I reach the apex of the hill and try to absorb the moment. 

This weekend we went to Turners Falls for the WRSI 40th birthday bash featuring a free concert by And the Kids, a bunch of our friends in The Winterpills, and Rubblebucket. It was a marvelous day for an outdoor concert and a couple thousand people turned up. There was even a short gentle summer shower in the middle of the Rubblebucket set, but that only made things seem more special and alive. I got to see so many friends and acquaintances for the first time in over a year. By the end of the evening, my throat was sore from talking to so many people. It felt wonderfully joyful, but also a little fraught with frightened energy. The news isn't good about the spread of the latest variant and several people mentioned stopping making plans for the future, or that this might be the last big event for a while.

Looking out across the audience in any direction I could stare for a little bit and find a couple of friends scattered among the crowd. It was a beautiful thing, and as a sentimental old guy (I am on the brink of certification), I felt almost tearful that we have all made it so far. Some of us are a little grayer, a little more misshapen, but we are all still here. On our way out, we stopped to talk with a friend who works in health care and she talked about how scary it was, and how in the early days she had to don an entire hazmat suit. She didn't call it that, but that is what I pictured. She talked about how they didn't know what they were dealing with and how many people died, and how some of her colleagues got sick and died. She talked about a pandemic PTSD. I wanted to hug her again as we parted. All day long, every time I ran into someone I know, I felt a heightened awareness of touch, when someone pulled me into an embrace, squeezed my arm, or slung an arm over my shoulder. Each little moment of touch was amplifying its absence all these months... and the fear of not being able to touch in the near future. 

For the band Rubblebucket, I danced like I haven't danced in over sixteen months. I danced until my legs were sore. Then I went grocery shopping. And despite all the hugs and dancing, body odor, and clouds of marijuana and tobacco, it still felt better to wear a mask. So, for the first time in a few weeks, we shopped wearing a mask again. It felt like a resignation.

For many months, I've struggled with meal time apathy, and one of the wonderful things about going to work at a university, is at lunch there is vast array of choices, everything from sushi, to a club sandwich, to today's selection, a falafel wrap. It was wonderfully tasty. I will have to exercise moderation at lunch... or bike to work more often.

Take care, be well, and stay safe,

Leo

Cresting a hill over Central.




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