The daily reality of this pandemic sometimes feels like it is passing through a camera obscura. We sit isolated, in darkened rooms, left to scan a two-dimensional projection of the lives we once knew, upside down.
It’s evening, another evening at home like countless before and who knows how many more to come. I close my eyes and see the crowds. I can hear the murmurs of anticipation, the hearty greetings of friends meeting up, the calls of the vendors and ushers. I can almost smell the popcorn, hot dogs, and even beer. I rewind, and remember the journey to our seats, backwards through the turnstiles, and out into the throngs on 7th Avenue. A mass of humanity, but you catch sight of individuals, coming and going, alone and in groups, huddled in winter coats against the cold air. Many heading to New Jersey, Long Island, or the far stretches of the New York metropolis. Others, like myself, heading inside.
A happy evening this season of the year in the before times often found me at Madison Square Garden with some combination of my son, grandson, and friends, rooting on the usually hapless New York Knickerbockers. We all took it for granted that the Knicks would likely lose but we would have a good time in each other’s company, often groaning, sometimes cheering, and inevitably shaking our heads.
Now I sit at my home in Texas, thousands of miles away, and tune into the games on television. My digital companions many nights are my family still in New York. We watch the games “together” even though we haven’t sat in the same room for months. I worry sometimes we may never do so again, although the vaccine fortifies me for more optimistic thoughts.
There were times when my work often took me far away from friends and loved ones. There were stretches of my children's youth when I wasn’t there to tuck them in at night.
Communication back then was a far cry from now, a muffled and long-distance phone call was a luxury that at best afforded a few minutes of connectedness.
We all have moments we can’t get back. That is part of life. Some of it is dictated by the choices we make, and some of it by fate.
This distance, however, feels very different from anything else I have experienced. It is as if we are separated by panes of glass, everywhere, unable to touch anyone other than the ones in our immediate little “bubble,” a word that appropriately conveys a precarious encapsulation. And I know there are many people staring down this isolation completely alone.
I switch on the television and the computer. Familiar faces appear on screen, on the court and in a distant apartment. I smile, I talk, I hold out hope for maybe a peek at the playoffs, and even more importantly, a hug.