I don’t miss writing checks to pay for everything and mailing them off in stamped envelopes to pay my bills. I don’t miss getting a whole chicken to cut up and then having to find someone foolish enough to eat the giblets. I don’t miss unairconditioned houses. I don’t miss twisting the handle on a mimeograph machine to make copies. I don’t miss those aspects of my youth. But I do miss my youth.
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Ah, early morning. The sun is just peeking over the horizon, the air is cool. The sound of doves and some other noisy chirper fills the air. A cup of hot coffee in hand and a quick check of the news sets up the day for a walk while the shadows are still long and the sprinklers are churring. Good morning!
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Every fall the big tree in my yard dumps 15 giant garbage bags of leaves for me to rake and bag. I think I’ll move to an apartment if I don’t have to clean up the leaves ever again. But then I think if I move the people in the apartment above me probably walk around all day like elephants. My house is nice and quiet. Decisions, decisions . . .
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Granny said S-H-I-T and spelled it out. She never said the actual word. Grannies were different then. Now they say everything just like the rest of the world, toddlers included. I recall the first time I said ‘shit’ out loud. I was in 7th grade, at the swimming pool. I was walking by myself and uttered the forbidden word to myself. It changed my life, saying that word out loud. Now I say everything just like the grannies and toddlers.
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I learned I could live on a deserted island during this pandemic. Provided I had plenty to eat. And assuming the place wasn’t full of hungry predators who were bigger than I am. Actually, maybe what I really learned is that I can be isolated in my comfy home for months at a time and not go stark raving mad. We writers have an advantage over the rest of the world. We are introverts. Another advantage is that we produce whole worlds in our imagination – so who needs anything outside the house?
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In Kansas City they have these flowering plants called naked ladies. They are so odd looking to me. I’m used to spiny things that warn you to keep away. If we humans completely mess up the earth (which seems inevitable), the plants are going to take over. They’ll fill all the crevices, infiltrate the buildings, cover the streets. I hope they like it hot.
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I miss picking out the restaurant we want to go to. I miss choosing a movie from a long list at the multiplex. I miss flying to the coast to see family. I miss hugs. I miss playing music with people. I miss chatting up the folks in my exercise class. There’s a lot to miss during a quarantine. But it isn’t as hard as missing the people who’ve been caught in this pandemic. Missing the people who are missing. The trauma and grief from so many missing people will last long after this is over.
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The kitchen was Where I talked to mom, The kitchen was Where we were all together, The kitchen was Where we played table games, The kitchen was The place to sit and stare, The kitchen was Full – filled – with life.
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I opened a new pack of Clorox wipes to clean up the load of groceries I’d just brought in the house. Ah, life during corona virus.
After, the smell on my hands took me back years. Back to an elementary school where I used to teach. Back to a school where the janitor polished and waxed the floors so regularly they gleamed. The wax, or the cleaning fluid, that he put in the machine he pushed up and down the halls, smelled like my hands.
I was back in the hallways of that building, thinking about all the kids who passed through them – probably still will when this pandemic is over. Back in a part of my life that was as natural as breathing.
Now, each time I use those wipes, I’ll go far away. Funny how a smell can do that to you.
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Think about all the alert sounds you know now that didn’t exist a few years ago. Alerts for games, for Facebook Messenger, for emails and voice mails and Marco Polo talks. Then there’s the horrible one for civil defense alerts or tornado warnings. What we don’t hear is the old timey ‘ring ring’ of a landline. Now phones ring with songs or chimes or clown horns. Modern day smart phone create a lot of interruptions. Don’t pay any attention. Keep writing.
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