Several weeks ago I ordered a CD of one of my all-time favorite albums, Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert. Back in the seventies I played that record so many times that the vinyl surely acquired more grooves.
The first time I gave it another listen I was driving in my car. That music is so incredibly evocative of a particular time for me; young, in love, free spirited. You know, nineteen. What caught me off guard was that my strongest emotional response was to the applause at the conclusion. The sound of an audience–the idea of a crowd at an event–it brought me to tears. Had I not been behind the wheel, it would have brought me to my knees.
I mean, damn. Sitting side by side with others in an auditorium–and I had the privilege of seeing Keith Jarrett in concert–was something I had taken totally for granted.
Now, almost a year into relative isolation, I miss my fellow humans something fierce.
Six feet from everyone. Masked. And after every interaction–no matter how socially distanced–sanitized as well.
This evening I was on the way to the pharmacy when, quite unexpectedly, my little bubble burst. It was cold and raining and I noticed a man hitchhiking. I immediately recognized him. Although I don’t actually know this person, when I walk Kumo he often passes us on his bicycle and always says hello. He is also either developmentally disabled or has suffered a brain injury.
Without thinking, I pulled to the side of the road. Sweeping aside the detritus in my front seat, I opened the passenger side door and asked where he was going. He was wearing a mask and I put mine on as well. It was only after I started driving again that it occurred to me that what I had just done–under the circumstances–was unusual. And maybe not the best decision for either my passenger or myself.
However I got him to where he was going. And after he said both goodbye and thank you, I burst into tears.
It is sad, so very sad, that this pandemic has necessarily compromised our humanity. We are not solitary creatures. The pack is our preferred mode. And I, for one, can’t wait to return to it.
Now read this NPR transcript and weep. First, the wonderful anecdote regarding the unlikely genesis of The Köln Concert. Followed by a story about Brian Eno, another of my favorite musicians. And then, unexpectedly–a segue into a tale regarding the London Tube with a moral so fucking apt for all that is happening in our lives at the moment.
We will get through this. And someway, somehow, we shall be better for it.