I miss hugs.
I miss parties and holiday celebrations with friends.
I miss going to a bar for happy hour or to watch a game, eating lukewarm hot dogs out of an uncovered Crockpot.
I miss high-fiving strangers, feeling the slight sting of the slap, when our team wins.
I miss putting my clothing into my condo complex’s communal washers and dryers without gloving up.
I miss browsing at a big-box retail store without having to cue up in line like I am waiting to buy a loaf of bread or a pair of shoes in Cold War-era Soviet Russia.
I miss passing a single joint around the circle.
I miss waking up and knowing, at least within a few brief seconds, what day it is.
I miss 5 o’clock traffic. I really do.
I miss my hands not feeling like they’re made out of leather. And not the soft, supple kind of Italian leather. I mean the kind of leather that is dry, rough, and cracked like it’s parched from laying out in the Texas sun for about 20 years.
I miss being able to read people’s lips when I can’t quite hear them.
I miss seeing people’s lips.
I miss taking a walk without getting a headache from repeatedly inhaling my own mask-trapped carbon dioxide.
I miss shaking the hands of people I’m meeting for the first time.
I miss shaking hands with, and more often, hugging people I haven’t seen for a long time that I run into in public places.
I miss reading the assorted free publications stacked in racks at restaurants while sitting at the bar or in a common area while waiting for my food order, then returning those publications to the rack for the nest person to enjoy without feeling like Typhoid Mary.
I miss attending trade conferences and packing shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues into a hotel’s ballroom to listen to a keynote speaker, even if I fundamentally disagree with everything that keynote speaker says and stands for.
I miss having a President who suffers with his fellow citizens. The only hint of suffering Trump has displayed during this crisis came when the country’s meatpacking industry almost collapsed. Lesson learned: Do not stand between Trump and his hamberders.
I miss riding the Metro and sitting beside the Spanish-speaking woman struggling with a stroller in one hand and her wriggling child in the other.
I miss lining up like cattle in Southwest Airlines’ A-B-C-D boarding lines.
I miss pressing crumpled up dollar bills that I got in change from a bartender into the hand of a drag queen in support of a worthy community charity. And I miss the ritual of that drag queen sometimes kissing my hand in gratitude and recognition.
I miss slipping carefully folded dollar bills into the hands of valet parking attendants, and not giving a second thought to the fact that their hands were just all over my steering wheel, gear shift knob, and door handle.
I miss the tasty free samples at Costco, distributed by someone whose face I can see.
But I love how people have tapped into their arty side to create facemasks that are more than terrifying reminders of a global airborne pandemic.
I love the quiet of the city. Who knew what a significant difference reducing the number of air travelers by 96 percent would have on one’s eardrums?
I love the fact that the largest ozone hole over Antarctica has disappeared due to the worldwide reduction of carbon emissions.
I love spontaneous, socially-distanced, masked picnics in the park with mutually cabin-fevered companions.
I love every phone call — even those from telemarketers. Do I buy what they’re selling? No. But I’m more likely to at least listen to them now, and then wish them luck on their next call.
I love talking to my immune-compromised sister in Ohio every single day about absolutely nothing.
I love seeing people smile with their eyes.
I love waiting in my car in the parking lot of a restaurant to pick up a safely prepared, safely packaged meal. And I love thanking them for resisting the option of opening their dining rooms too soon, and for prioritizing their customers’ health over profit.
I love the feeling of safety and comfort, and pure joy I find in my precious partner’s arms after we quarantined away from each other for a month to make 99.999 percent sure we were safe from infection.
I love waking up in the morning. Or maybe it’s afternoon. Hard to tell. I love waking up.