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The Long & Winding Road: From the safety of home, thanks to those who are not

The Long & Winding Road: From the safety of home, thanks to those who are not

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Who says being stuck at home is all bad?

For those of us lucky enough to be employed virtually for the moment, it can be fantastic.

Sure but don’t I miss my colleagues with whom I talk politics and the movies while we stand in the hallowed halls of higher ed?

Sure but don’t I miss the young faces (somehow getting younger and younger) of my students who raise their hands high, or hide in the back of the classroom, or wait until class is over to ask me searching questions about their future careers?

Sure but don’t I miss gathering with friends, watching movies together or sharing a glass of wine?

Sure but don’t I miss the bus ride to campus, during which I nod hello to people I only know by sight, and only from those very bus rides? Or hopping onto my bike to make the short commute to work, crossing the train tracks and passing Macy’s, the coffee house four decades in Flagstaff, which brought the first coffee roaster ever to the state?

Sure but don’t I miss those coffee baristas who know me slightly, or, rather, who knew me then slightly, by my regular steaming drink?

All those people I don’t know that well, but who help put a shape and depth to my normal days.

But, wait. Does any of that beat being at a department meeting, turning off my camera for several minutes, in order to put away the delivered groceries left on my front stoop?

Does any of that beat letting students take a break during virtual class time, and showing them my puppy to boost their frayed spirits?

Does any of that beat learning how to sit still, to be here now, to make the essential phone call when the walls begin closing in?

Well, yes it does. This virtual life has its perks, especially for the privileged among us who are not called to serve on the front lines. But it’s nothing like back in the day. You know, 2019. Who could have guessed that year would one day become a golden year, one we looked back on nostalgically, the way we do an old movie like “Casablanca”?

The in-person contacts and connections, especially with close friends and family, cannot be beat. The warmth of a hug from someone you love. The random affection from a stranger who tells you your smile reminds them of an old friend. The missing-tooth grin of a child who pets your dog. The plans for a trip—an actual trip—that will take you to new places in this country and beyond, to people old and new, who you will meet for the 100th time, or for the first.

And, sure, don’t I know I’m one of the lucky ones? I’m not one of you folks working in the hospitals, grocery stores or barber shops to keep the rest of us in good shape. Or the Post Office, for goodness sake. So thanks to all of you for showing up in person, while the rest of us work behind our computer screens.

Soon we will join you, and, when it’s safe, I hope you accept some well-deserved embraces. Will 2,021 hugs be enough?


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