… on ambient people

A few weeks ago, I ran across an internet meme/comic that went something like this:

A woman bursts into a room, clearly ecstatic, and shouting “Things are opening up! It’s been over a year and it’s finally happening! This is amazing! Lockdowns are almost over!”

There is a man in the room, at a desk. It feels quiet. There are a few open books beside him, a laptop in front of him. I imagine a dog curled up at his feet. He ‘feels’ serene, and the scene is close to what I might refer to as… Heaven.

His response…

“What lockdown?”

The caption below was something like, “Extroverts vs. Introverts in the Time of Covid”.

In comedy, the stuff that tends to send us into stitches is the stuff that is ridiculous… and true. Of course, I am referring to personality types here, and wouldn’t it have been wonderful if this pandemic had been only about surviving our personalities, versus surviving so much else.

That being said, JoHn has come perilously close to not surviving his own personality – as judged by me – on more than one occasion, when even this big old house felt a little too small for the two of us (plus two dawgs, of course) in isolation. I’m sure he did not feel the same about me.

Getting back to it, I am – in fact and deeds – an introvert.

No one guesses this right off the bat (usually), as I am friendly and very much enjoy a good conversation and social stuff.

But, see, right there, I feel the need to put a whole lot of words together to make caveats. Like, when I say I like ‘good conversation’ and ‘social stuff’, I want to be more specific, lest I lead you astray . For instance, I love getting together with friends and family. I love meeting new people, and I even like parties (okay… sometimes). That being said, seeing too many social commitments on my calendar is bound to lead to a hive (or three), along with a driving need to back out of one or more of those activities (by making JoHn call people, because I don’t want to talk on the phone). Plans on Friday AND Saturday nights send me into a cocoon of blankets, with a side of tea, on Sunday (ALL of Sunday)… and if you make me do things on that Sunday too? Good luck finding me for at least a week. Also? I could talk about the good and great and tough stuff of real life… or great books or music or human dynamics, or philosophy or garden design or or or all night long… but small talk makes me want to locate the nearest dinner fork (salad or any tine-laden eating tool will do) and stick it in my eye. 

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.


And so, after over a year of seeing only those within my ‘pod’, and the few other masked avengers I encountered in my ventures out to the store or outdoor restaurants, do I – the introvert – actually miss people?

Very much.

Though the ebbs and flows of any given day have been similar to what they were pre-pandemic (JoHn has worked from home since 2000), and – through planning and targeted covid testing – we have been fortunate to be able to see many of the folks we might usually see in a year, and I certainly miss those I’ve not yet seen. But – and this is not an epiphany, as much as a realization of sorts – it’s more than the meeting and greeting and handshakes and hugging.

I miss… ambient people.

You know.

The folks around all the places we tend to be, but don’t necessarily connect with beyond the occasional ‘thank you’ for holding door, or a nod from someone we let slip by us on a narrow sidewalk.

I miss them.

Their anonymous faces…

The sound of their voices, combined with other ambient people’s voices…

Their footsteps and chairs scratching across the floor of a restaurant…

Crowds along sidewalks, each individual unknown to me.

I have two favorite sounds in this world, one is of the spring peepers – the small frogs as they emerge from the mud in April.

The second is what I call ‘breakfast sounds’.

Breakfast sounds in my own home are great, but they are best appreciated when orchestrated by ambient people.

These are the sounds of forks and knives and spoons on ceramic plates and bowls, of coffees and juices and waters being poured, of people coming to life in the morning. Babies’ delighted shrieks, folks making the sound of folks… a loud blend of ordering, talking, laughing. When accompanied by the smells of bacon, maple syrup, toast… sigh… It’s a flat out ‘yay’ in my book.

You can hear breakfast sounds from many a hotel lobby, or while waiting for a table at a place that serves breakfast so good that pretty much everyone has to wait a bit before sitting down and joining the fray. I’ve even heard some great breakfast sounds while stopped at a stoplight, car windows down, next to a diner so authentic it might have housed its original vinyl uphostery (duct taped as needed) and chrome.

There is an old inn along the route I often walk in the morning with friends. Its restaurant faces the water and, in non-pandemic summers, it’s windows are open, availing its guests of the warm sea breezes. This particular inn’s breakfast sounds (and sights and smells) are awesome.

This introvert cannot wait for ambient people to pour back into each others’ worlds (and that particular inn).

For our lives to seamlessly weave themselves together again.

For uncovered smiles and courtesies comfortably shared.

And breakfast sounds that happen without much concern at all…

Beyond starting the day.

Thanks for readin’.

Comments and shares are always appreciated, and you can do that right here (well, not, like, RIGHT here… down there. See?). You can also join fellow ponderers over on the Just Ponderin’ Facebook page (there’s a bit of extra stuff too – from photos to observations to conversations. C’mon over any time!)

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