I miss applause. The raucous sound of hands pounding together in celebration of something great, something that makes us erupt in joy and gratitude.
I miss the dismissal bell at the elementary school and the sheer, mad joy of the students as they came galloping out the doors, side-by-side, running when they were not supposed to run, laughing at the possibilities that stretch out for the rest of the day.
I miss the awkward companionship of the elevator with its small talk about which button needs to be pressed and whether the weather will ever get warmer.
I miss the barber shop. The smell of alcohol-based haircare products and the buzz of clippers. The magazines that told us how to get flatter abs, a nicer living room, and how to retire early by investing the money you find in an old pair of pants. I miss the idle chatter about Tiger King or whatever the show of the moment is and the explanation that my hair grows in different directions, which is why it spikes without product.
I miss the days when a politician’s good decisions saved us some dollars instead of saving our lives. I miss the days when a politician’s bad decisions didn’t mean death.
I miss sitting in a lawn chair on the sideline of a youth soccer game, shouting encouragement – always encouragement – and chatting with other parents about so many things aside from the game itself.
I miss shaking hands. I know. I know. Hand-shaking is evil and will never come back. I get it. But I miss it. Just look at the hand. It was made to fit into another in a greeting that was neither too formal nor too familiar. I miss this.
I miss parades with their marching bands and fire trucks and all of us standing shoulder to shoulder on the side of the road applauding the sheer joy of being connected to one another by something so simple.
I miss the sounds of a large groups of kids whizzing down the street on bicycles (though I still see this too often, if truth be told).
I miss gathering to celebrate the life of someone who has passed. I miss the sad, sweet funny eulogy and the ability to tell people, the people it matters to, how much the person meant to me. How they were there at just the right moment of my life to offer comfort and solace.
I miss gathering to celebrate the new life of two people who have decided to glue their futures together. I miss the reception band, with the drum miked too loud and the singer who has to shout to be heard. I miss the bad covers of Kool and the Gang. I miss the hors d’oeurves, which come by on those little trays, disguising food I would not normally eat in attractive packages.
I miss the echoing bustle of the courthouse.
I miss the collective silence that comes when the last of the previews, the last of the ads, the last of the admonishments to turn off our cellphones, has passed from the screen and the feature presentation is about to start. I even miss the cellphone that rings about twenty minutes into the movie.
I miss the guy in the convenience store talking on his Bluetooth headset and the way that, just for a second, I would think he was talking to me. I miss the way I would start to answer that, “No, I hadn’t seen what happened to Bobby,” before realizing the guy was talking to someone else.
I miss the mayhem of my son’s friends and how all things great and small were fun to them.
I miss sports. I miss the way it was once possible to care so deeply about something that meant absolutely nothing.
I miss cookouts and hardware stores. I miss live music. I miss being shoulder-to-shoulder on a hot summer day in a one-hour line for a two-minute amusement park ride and then discovering that the Lazy River – no line – is the best ride in the park, anyway.
I miss looking at the plates of the people dining on the sidewalks in West Hartford center as I walk by with my kids to get ice cream. I miss the smell of concession stand hot dogs. I miss all of this.
Mostly, though, I miss all of you.
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