Oh, the things I miss …

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I’ll do when the COVID-19 threat passes. I’ve also been thinking about the many things I miss.

I have a lot of time on my hands, as we all do, so I’ve spent some time considering these subjects, and I think the first thing I’ll do when all of this is over is give someone a big hug. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to hug or shake hands, and, for us southerners, that’s been really difficult.

I also know I’ll never take my weekend shopping trips – to Target and Corner Market – for granted again. I never thought the idea of roaming the aisles at Target without a mask – or without a sense of urgency to get in and get out – could make me teary-eyed, but here we are.

Another big casualty of the pandemic for me has been the loss of movie theaters. On a Friday night or a lazy Saturday afternoon, I can typically be found reclining in one of the chairbacks at a theater in town, munching on popcorn and sipping an overpriced alcoholic beverage. There’s something magical about movie theater popcorn, and I miss it, but I mostly miss the entire experience of visiting a theater and seeing a great film. I’d settle for a lackluster one at this point.

I miss my Sunday breakfasts at either The Depot or SouthBound Bagel & Coffee Shop in downtown Hattiesburg. The Depot closed its doors shortly after all this started, and I greatly miss my typical coffee and granola dish. I’ve ordered takeout from SouthBound (too many times, according to my scale), but a genuine SouthBound experience isn’t complete without enjoying your meal in the cramped confines of the restaurant.

My scale, by the way, has just about given up on me. We’ve ordered a lot of takeout since this started. I tell people it’s because we support local restaurants, and that’s partly true, but I’m also lazy and don’t want to cook. I consider this killing two birds with one stone, but it’s been damaging to my weight loss efforts. I miss my gym and the trainers, and I hope they don’t run away from me in shock when I’m back at it. I promise I’ll get back to my routine when the pandemic passes.

I especially miss seeing people at church. Virtual services are great, and the pastors in our area are to be commended for the way they’ve adapted to a tough situation, but it isn’t the same for me. I miss the ritual of going to church, and I especially miss the beautiful music. I miss the comfort of greeting others, and I miss the feeling of accomplishment I always earned by actually getting up and making it to church on time each Sunday.

I even miss traffic on Hardy Street, to be honest with you. In the nearly five weeks since this all started, I’ve ventured to the west side of town a few times, and it’s no fun navigating Hardy when the traffic is so light. I miss yelling at people for not using their blinkers or for cutting me off in traffic.

The list of things I miss can go on and on, but I mostly miss social interaction. I’m used to getting together with my friends multiple times each week and enjoying a sit-down meal at one of our local restaurants, and that’s an experience I’ll never take for granted again. I haven’t been able to see my family in weeks, and it’ll be nice to visit with them again, too.

I’ve also been working on a list of things I won’t miss, and the daily casualty reports from the Mississippi State Department of Health top that list. Those reports are a reminder that we must continue to take this illness seriously, even though our adjustments are uncomfortable and have us missing our creature comforts. We must continue to keep our guards up for now, and we must listen to the experts.

We must wear our masks and practice social distancing. If we get complacent and adjust back to normal life too soon, then we’ll be back in this same situation – or in a worse situation – for many more weeks.

It’s OK to miss things, and I certainly do, but we can all take comfort in the fact that this, too, shall pass, and things will roll back to normal once again.

Until then, friends, I’ll see you from a safe distance. Stay healthy.

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