I miss a lot of things that, technically, I could be doing right now, but am not, because of social distancing guidelines I’m choosing to follow for the same reason I wouldn’t stop using a parachute when it seems to be working.
Like, I miss going to the dog park. I miss the mud in my back seat on the way home. I miss feeling a little smug when I get to answer the breed question by explaining that my mutt is, ahem, a rescue. I miss, inevitably, apologizing to other dog people and saying, “we’re working on her [insert behavior].”
I miss high-fives and hugs. I miss secret handshakes among lifelong friends, and I miss business handshakes where the other person is trying way too hard. I miss the weird, anxiety-producing custom of passing a greeting card around an office and having everyone come up with a clever way of saying happy birthday or goodbye.
I miss not knowing what the inside of every famous person’s house looks like.
I miss sports I normally don’t care about. I miss learning enough each season to fake my way through a conversation about it, provided there are minimal follow-ups. (“That ol’ Cabrera fellow sure made a mess of things in last night’s ball match, eh, gents?”)
I miss browsing through a library and being amazed that libraries exist. I miss antique stores and record stores and bookstores and tacky souvenir stores in lakeshore towns.
As much as I love cooking, I miss eating in restaurants where they’re better at it (that’s every restaurant). I miss conveyor belt sushi, which seems rare in the Midwest, which is probably for the best. I miss the thing Uma Thurman mentions in “Pulp Fiction” where your food is waiting for you when you come back from the bathroom. I miss rolling the dice on a tiny eatery in a suburban strip mall and being delighted.
I miss being invited to go camping. I miss deconstructing the pointlessness of spending a weekend at a campground — like, why would anyone pay for a dirtier, less convenient version of regular life? — but then going anyway. I miss the campfires. I miss street festivals. I miss friends’ porches and patios. I miss backyard cookouts. I miss ... a lot of things that I’m now realizing are seasonal, and which I wouldn’t have experienced yet in 2020 anyway, but whatever, I’m on a roll.
I miss making music with friends. I miss album release parties. I miss packed comedy shows. I miss art museums and gallery openings and pop-up events and gatherings I’m no longer cool enough to know about until after the fact. I miss trivia nights and bars that have board games. I miss doing karaoke and realizing halfway through a song that the lyrics have aged terribly (recent example: “Summer Nights”).
I miss what happens at concerts right after the house lights go down. I miss my back hurting halfway through a show because I wore the wrong shoes. I miss thinking of reasons not to attend music festivals and getting teased for being an old man. I miss getting right up front for the artist I really want to see while everyone’s at a different stage.
I miss traveling. I miss getting an airport beer no matter what time of day it is. I miss getting home.
I miss when you go to birthday parties where they say no gifts but totally expect gifts, then standing around embarrassed because you didn’t bring anything. I miss ghosting. I miss joking that I prefer the “Irish hello,” which is that I never go anywhere in the first place (rimshot). I miss pondering an array of weekend day or night activities, then deciding to stay home, because at least there was the option.
But I also miss occasionally deciding at the last minute to go to the thing, which is a privilege I sometimes have — and maybe you go not expecting much, and usually you’re right, but then once in a while you show up and everyone’s there and happy to see you, and each other.
I miss people.