One year ago, I did an ordinary thing for the last time. I met two friends on a Friday night for drinks and snacks at the Abbey, my neighborhood bar.

I’d canceled plans for the next night when I was supposed to see some music with another friend at the Beehive; the Biogen story about Boston’s COVID-19 outbreak had just broken, and I didn’t want to chance it. I have asthma, and the specter of a respiratory plague had me spooked. My friend, while understanding, definitely thought that I was overreacting.

In truth, I thought that I was overreacting, too.  

Waiting in line at the Brattle Theatre, Harvard Square, Boston
Waiting in line at the Brattle. Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Earlier that week, I’d gone to a Louise Erdrich reading at the Brattle Theatre put on by Harvard Book Store. Sitting up in the balcony you could smell sanitizer everywhere, and the hushed conversation focused on what was coming. I rode one stop on the T with my friends afterwards, and we said our goodbyes, knowing that it would be for a while. I slathered my hands in sanitizer after getting off the train without touching anything and willed myself up the Porter Square escalator faster.

Over bites and cocktails at the Abbey on that last Friday evening, my friends and I talked about upcoming travel plans and whether or not they would happen. I talked about possibly going to my parents’ house if things got bad. Mostly, though, we just shared plates and talked like we always did.

One friend had to go home, and the other came back to my apartment to hang out for a bit. We drank wine, listened to Sketches of Spain, and talked. Around midnight, she caught a ride home.

I locked my door.

And I haven’t had a friend over since. I started social distancing the next day.

I didn’t see my friends again at all until May when I got back from New Hampshire. My social calendar this distant year has mostly involved Zooms. Especially in winter, I only rarely saw my friends in person.

Crocuses, March 2020. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Yesterday, though, I took my afternoon walk with that friend. We sat on benches at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and caught up for a bit longer before heading back.

I’m seeing the friends from the book reading today for some kind of outdoor get together.

I’ll qualify for the vaccine soon, asthma finally being good for something.

And someday, hopefully not too long from now, I will do an extraordinary thing. I’ll meet friends for drinks and snacks at a local bar.

Sundries for you

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