Pandemic Diary 9: Love and Service

When all this is over, some of the things we used to take for granted will appear to us a novelties or great new ideas.

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Sometimes I wonder about the elderly couple that my friend and ran into a few years ago. If they are still with us, does the quarantine affect them; for those who were already in a form of social isolation, how has the month of April 2020 felt any different, if at all?

Love is love, no matter what. This fact can feel like a new idea in isolation, a revelation in our current world of video chats and the neighborly refusal to sweat the small stuff when the suffering and loss of others are omnipresent. I want to sweat the small stuff, though, to return to my cranky outlook on life, but I have friends on the front line of this global tragedy. I have family whose acquaintance with loss is renewed each decade or so. Thus, the small stuff remains small—Quarantine Land leads one to thoughts about whether any worry is important or not. Priorities are assembled in a more sensible order.
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Infinite Love

“The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men. As far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.”—G.K. Chesterton, “The Flag of the World,” Orthodoxy

The suicide is committing, from his or her terrible and terrifying and terrified point of view, genocide. Humanity-cide.
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Bearing Witness

One afternoon, my friend and I were waiting for her car to be serviced, so we sat in the waiting room to discuss the things good friends discuss in waiting rooms when coffee is being given away.

An elderly woman, still wearing her winter coat indoors, was sitting alone across from us, barking inarticulate sounds to herself. Sometimes, when she would hear laughter, she would rock forward, and, with a smile on her face, direct some louder sounds in the direction of the others, as if she was participating in the joking and merriment. Then she would slump back and the stream of non-language would continue, sometimes in a sing-song, sometimes with a note of fear and anger. Was she alone here? Had she wandered in off the street? That was not possible, as the street was Route 9.
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A Moment of Understanding

My current crush and I will visiting the same local pond (not the one in the picture above) I wrote about a year ago in “Forever Snug.” I re-ran it a couple weeks ago, edited to reflect 2016. It is here again because the sun is out and so are we:

It was one of those days in which the lifeguards outnumbered the swimmers. We were at a local park that features a small lake and beach: on holiday weekends families travel to more prominent parks that feature rides as an added distraction. So the crowds were elsewhere even on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and we were one couple out of maybe ten groups. Two families, each with three water-loving toddlers, splashed about, and none of the children were yet old enough to test their limits against the flimsy, algae-covered nylon rope demarcating the “deep end” of the pond on three sides. The lifeguards chatted with the families, flirted with each other, bought each other ice cream, and burned off the ice cream calories breaking each others’ speed records chasing after the tuneful ice cream truck.
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No Sacrifice at All

One afternoon, my friend and I were waiting for her car to be serviced, so we sat in the waiting room to discuss the things good friends discuss in waiting rooms when coffee is being given away.

An elderly woman, still wearing her winter coat indoors, was sitting alone across from us, barking inarticulate sounds to herself. Sometimes, when she would hear laughter, she would rock forward, and, with a smile on her face, direct some louder sounds in the direction of the others, as if she was participating in the joking and merriment. Then she would slump back and the stream of non-language would continue, sometimes in a sing-song, sometimes with a note of fear and anger. Was she alone here? Had she wandered in off the street? That was not possible, as the street was Route 9.
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Walking on My Face

I bear a scar from the first Valentine’s Day that I had a reason to celebrate as Valentine’s Day, as a part of a couple. Until my current relationship, my romantic history was a long walk alone in an empty field, punctuated by moments in which I interrupted someone else’s walk, attempted to try a relationship, and discovered that I try people’s patience instead. (All the women I have dated are brilliant and accomplished and I was lucky to get to know them; I was stuck at age 15 for an astonishingly long time, however.)

My love right now, my soul mate, Jen, is quite brilliant and accomplished, and for the first time in my life, almost four years now, I am an equal partner and have opened myself up to having an equal partner. Not too bad for a 47-year-old 15-year-old.
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Love in the Parts & Service Department

[This was originally posted in November 2013.]

Today at a car dealer I saw the sharpest and softest demonstration of love.

My friend, L——, and I were waiting for her car to be serviced, so we sat in the waiting room to discuss the things good friends discuss in waiting rooms.
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Trains, Trains, and Buses

Angry, barking angry. “Ass-hat angry,” neither of my grandfathers would have called it, because neither of my grandfathers ever said “ass-hat.” So angry that both of my departed grandfathers in the hereafter would have been forced to come up with pretend back-country colloquialisms to describe their grandson, also known as me. That frustrated and angry.

The story has a happy ending, of course. And the anger departed the moment it was expressed at the anonymous Newark-ian who knocked me over Thursday night.
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