In the Flesh
“To touch can be to give life.” ~Michelangelo
A year ago, we went to movie theatres and concerts and restaurants without a flicker of concern.
Today, those venues are closed to us and masks are mandated in grocery stores.
A year ago, my hair was much, much shorter and I could drive across the US/Canada border with ignorant ease.
Today, my hair stays in a ponytail and my body in my apartment.
A year ago, we stockpiled toilet paper and paid a fortune for sanitary hand wipes, if we could find them.
Today? Plenty of both are readily available.
A year ago, we wondered when we would get “back to normal.”
Today, we’re still figuring out what the new normal might look and feel like.
A year ago, we took a lot for granted: family gatherings, shopping when and where we wanted, handshakes, hugs.
Today, the latter is what we miss most.
Human contact. Not through Zoom, or over Facetime, or on the phone. In the flesh.
Human interaction, human touch—that’s what we miss the most.
And while it still exists, it’s out of reach, temporarily, at least physically.
Mentally, however, is a different matter.
* * * * *
Last night the sense of isolation and absence of touch overtook me briefly.
I was flipping through entertainment choices and though I’ve seen it several times, I stopped on the movie “The Greatest Showman” because its catchy score is a favourite in my son’s household and whenever I’m with them (and also when I’m not) they all get up and dance during the choreographed numbers. (Here’s proof from a year ago: Dance Party1)
My heart ached—physically ached—in remembrance of those moments and railed against the temporary stoppage of them. I yearned to scoop up my grand-daughter, who at two-years old can dance up a storm, and loves to sway to the music in my arms.
I refused to succumb to the feelings of loss and watched the darn movie again, or at least the best parts, the big numbers. I imagined my grandkids; if I were with them would I feel sad? No. I’d be up and moving!
For the rest of the movie, if Hugh Jackman was singing, I was dancing.
And my grandkids were there, with me. I laughed with them and marched around my apartment and shook my booty in the same silly way I do when in their home.
It felt like they were right there with me, like it was real.
And rather than aching, when the movie ended, my heart smiled out loud.
Like a magnificent, muscular dog, the mind is a powerful thing; it’s important to teach it to heel.
* * * * *
A lot has changed in the course of a year.
Covid cases are coming down. Vaccines are rolling out.
I believe (hope?) a lot of people have taken the time to examine their priorities, what they want, don’t want, what they now need or have discovered is no longer important.
And though we don’t yet quite know how those individual internal shifts will show up on the outside, we will figure it out—our collective new normal—together.
In the flesh.
To the degree that we believe that.
Just like I’ll dance with Miss Maddie once more, in my arms, in the flesh.
“Paradise is attained by touch.” ~Helen Keller