It’s weird and disorienting, isn’t it, this time we’re living through?
But it’s also a good opportunity, I think, to remember what was, and how much we took it for granted.
I miss the mundane. I miss getting up and wondering what I should wear — is it chilly enough for a sweater? — and walking to the subway hearing the sound of traffic and dealing with crowds on the platform. I miss the long wait to ride the one escalator up to the street. I used to complain about it, and seethe about the frequent breakdowns in a city that never sleeps, and never quite works right, either.
Now, I realize, that was a sign of life — battered, broken, imperfect life. And I miss it.
I miss the guy who runs the coffee cart outside our building and the interminable crowds of people in the lobby at 8:45, jostling for elevators that are too full.
I miss hearing about everybody’s weekend on Monday morning.
I miss the giant omelets they made at the local diner.
I miss long walks through a noisy city.
I miss church. God, how I miss church. I miss communion and community. I miss the smell of incense and the sensation of dipping my finger in the holy water font and feeling droplets on my brow. I miss seeing the same faces in the same pews, week after week. I miss shaking hands at the door and pausing to bless a rosary or share a laugh. I miss spending Sunday in the sacristy or on the altar or in the rectory kitchen, swapping stories and drinking coffee and hearing the same hymns again and again, Mass after Mass, through the intercom. I miss being there by the altar, inches away from the greatest ongoing miracle in human history. I miss climbing the pulpit to proclaim the Gospel and preach.
I miss baptisms. Nothing brought me more joy.
I miss haircuts. I miss the gruff Russian barber named Sam. I wonder how he’s doing.
I miss weekends. All the days seem the same now. Time has no structure, no beginning or end. The calendar seems meaningless.
I miss the life that was. Facebook, with painful regularity, sends me memories of what I was doing two, three, four years ago. It was another life, wasn’t it? I miss big dinners and raucous parties and going to weddings and walking through crowded airports to start a vacation. I miss going to movies and plays. I miss hugging friends and family I haven’t seen in a long time.
I miss seeing people’s faces.
I wonder if we will ever do things like that again. I think so. I hope so. But it won’t be the way it was, and it won’t be happening again any time soon.
The great Harry Smith summed it all up the other day in a piece for the TODAY show.