I really miss going to restaurants. It’s not about the food really or the fact that I don’t have to cook that night. It’s about having a little break in the midst of an ordinary week.
During this pandemic, we’ve lost jobs, routines, and social closeness. And there are also strange little things we’ve lost that make a difference in our emotional well-being.
- We’ve lost the mini-vacations of visiting museums, shopping, and eating out. The change of scenery, the treat, the opportunity for something unexpected to happen have all been minimized during these days of quarantine.
- We’ve lost the ability to start the day making a command decision at our local coffee shop. At home there’s one kind of coffee. If we buy coffee out, there are at least six decisions to be made before we get to the office: hot or cold, caf or decaf, whip or no whip, sugar or sugar-free, skim or whole, short or tall. Remember this scene from You’ve Got Mail?
- We’ve lost the ability to connect with strangers. It goes without saying that the lack of touching between family members who don’t live together is hard. But it’s also hard to stand six feet away from the cashier, the post office employee, and the person on the street. Call me inappropriate, but I used to touch the shoulder of my public librarian when she walked me over to the copy machine. “Thank you so much.” (touch shoulder)
As a person living alone for two years while HH and our dog were still in the Midwest, I would sometimes sit at the bar of breakfast diners and talk with perfect strangers about what they ordered. They might ask me what I’m reading. I’ve been asked more than once about movies, books, and even where I go to church. I loved that connection with strangers.
I also loved wandering into cute shops looking at the candles and greeting cards. I loved going to the movies on a rainy afternoon. I loved wandering into a secondhand store looking for treasures.
I really loved meeting people in coffee shops.
Those things are gone for now and five months into this thing, I feel it. It takes it’s toll.
It also goes without saying that this is a First World Issue that shows my privilege. Variety is a privilege. Options are a privilege. Making six decisions about our morning coffee is a privilege. Eating in restaurants is a privilege.
I remember being asked by a guy for money on Central Avenue in Charlotte, and I told him that I was on my way into the restaurant he was standing in front of and I didn’t have money, but I’d buy him breakfast. It was very clear that he didn’t eat in restaurants much. He asked for McDonald’s french fries (we weren’t in a McDonald’s.) He wanted a milkshake in a restaurant that didn’t do milkshakes. But having that opportunity to hang out with that person was not only a privilege for me; it was a gift. I miss random encounters.
We who’ve had the opportunity to enjoy such strange little things pre-pandemic are just fine. And yet, I admit before you and God that I miss them.
Image of Undercurrent Coffee Shop in my neighborhood and one of their mochas. It’s not like this anymore.