(I really hope I am not alone in this but) Why do I not know how to walk toward someone on the street after 47 years of passing people on streets? Why do I not know where to look or when to make eye contact or for how long? Why does it get harder the closer we get? It feels as though we should by now have figured out a standard operating procedure for strangers crossing paths, such as not making eye contact till the final moment then a glance and an eyebrow raise and an upward chin nod, or maybe a nod when you’re within the range of focus and then a disconnection of eye contact. This feels like something the French and the Japanese probably have figured out that Americans have too many conflicting puritanical and xenophobic tendencies to reconcile. Or probably folks who live in big cities have this down, they have their patterns of touchpoint because they pass tens of people every day, whereas I pass maybe four. It’s probably easier to keep one’s eyes to one’s self, to default to no greeting whatsoever, but that feels like setting a baseline expectation of disconnection, too cold and lonely for sustaining life.
I can’t be alone in missing whole human faces in front of me in physical space. After embracing denial for the first six or so months of isolation, missing things is sneaking back in, twinging my heart. But missing in 2020 feels more like honoring than lacking.
I didn’t play music during the month of October. A month is a long time for me to not play music and the lack had left me feeling squeezed out and empty. Prior to pandemic the band I’ve been in for many years was preparing to make a new record, honing songs and chiseling out time to escape to the wild north to record and stick our toes in Superior; and the other band I’m in had just played our first show and were getting feet under us. And then there was the Great Pause. Chafe and I have continued to write and play together, a luxury no doubt, but we’re starved for that regular raucous communion of drums and loud guitars, the alchemy of togetherness, why harmony makes us feel like we suddenly have more nerve endings. Like in the moment the back-up singers come in here at around 1:50, I’m reminded we can be better together, that together is a better state. As we begin to end this year I’m conceiving of a 2021 in which we are less virtually together and more actually together. Here’s hoping, and hoping never hurts (or when it does it only hurts a little).