Most days since self-solitude; now week six, I have stayed within the confines of my four walls. Comfortable, safe, virus-free. Some days I don’t want to venture outward. My friend Greg Bullough did shopping for me yesterday since he was already heading out and didn’t want me to risk exposure. Knock, drop, and run is what he did, with a virtual hug before he got back into his car. This morning, I had planned to go into Doylestown to visit my favorite business called The Zen Den. Its tagline is ‘a funky, chic coffee boutique’. For the past nine years, it has been my office away from home, a place where I would have business meetings and social meet-ups. Like the fictional bar Cheers, it is a place where everybody knows your name. Not only does the owner, Annette Coletta know my name, she knows what kind of tea I drink and what sandwiches I would order. When they first opened, it was grilled cheese and more recently, chicken curry wrap. It is a community gathering place filled with music and laughter and a whole bunch of love. For the past month and a half, it has been open only on weekend mornings for curbside pickup or brief walk-in orders. Then came an announcement via Facebook that she would be closing the doors, like many small businesses. Such a loss to our community. Tomorrow is to be that final day.
I just had an image of the end of a long-running television show where the last character says goodnight, turns out the light and closes the door, leaving the audience in grateful and sad tears. Grateful that it existed and sad that the ride is over. I experienced it last week while watching the final episode of Will and Grace. This was the penultimate day since Annette will be doing that tomorrow. I can only imagine the blend of emotions that will well up within her. I walked through the front door as I had so many times before. Only this time, the people that were in the venue were not gathered in chairs and on couches, not hunched over their laptops typing away, not perched on stools chatting up a storm, not listening to, or singing along to live music. Instead, the furniture and fixtures were tagged with prices for purchase. Customers were respecting space and decked out in all kinds of face coverings. It occurred to me that it was like Halloween where we had to figure out who was behind the mask. Virtual hugs abounded as we wished we could hug heart to heart. I ordered my favorite Peter Rabbit tea that is rich with lemongrass, rosehips, orange, and peppermint. I had to wait until I got back to the car to drink it since it’s kind of hard to sip tea wearing a mask. I know that tears will well up each time I drive past, filled with fond memories. I wish Annette joy on the next steps on her journey.
The next stop was a visit with my cousin Jody Rosenblum, who I haven’t seen face to face since this all began. She had already set up a chair on her lawn and she sat on her deck, at least 20 feet away. Her chocolate lab Maddie ran back and forth between us, not maintaining even a wee bit of social distance. She jumped up over and over, convinced, as always that she is a lap dog. I didn’t mind in the least and welcomed it, since, sadly, this four-legged bundle of energy is the first mammal I have hugged in six weeks. I hugged a few trees lately which was lovely, but this was a treat. What you may not know about me, unless you read my column regularly is that I am a touch and consent educator and facilitate a workshop called Cuddle Party and offer free hugs events. In the past 15 years, I have likely hugged and cuddled thousands of people, one I ran into when I was walking back to my car to head over to Jody’s house. Heather Lynn recognized me behind the mask and said she wished we could hug, reminding me that we had met at Pridefest last summer in town. Virtual hugs were all that was possible there too.
By way of supporting another local biz that I want to see continue, I ordered a Star Wars t-shirt for my son who is a fan of the iconic movie series, like his mama, from Monkeys Uncle owned by Derrick and Janelle Morgan. A virtual Small Business Saturday was a tremendous success for them. I swooped by the next day to pick up my order that was hanging on their front door.
My dreams have been reflective of my experience. This one showed up in my mental movie screen last night.
“Another powerful dream. I keep asking for them. This time, my mom who died in 2010 was driving a car in which I was a passenger. The sky was darkening and to the right of us, I noticed a tornado spinning wildly. I urged her to drive quickly to get us to safety. We drove to my current house and went inside. I told her we needed to hunker down in the bathroom since it is the innermost room and has no windows. I peered up through the skylight and could see it above us. I had the sense that I could blow it away. Within a few minutes, it roared its final farewell and disappeared, I felt a sense of peace come over me.
I know that this is directly related to the current state of the world and the fear of my life as I know it being swept away. Having my mom behind the wheel was a comfort. I also was able to think quickly on my feet, a skill I inherited from her. I didn’t wake up in Oz, though.”
I wish I had. Like Dorothy, I could wake up from this nightmare into the light of day, remembering that there is no place like home.
One of the lessons of this atypical day is that love is contagious. That hasn’t changed, virus or no virus.