Even introverts are having a hard time these days. I like my solitude, but not this much. I spend most of my time in front of my computer working on various writing projects, paying bills, or researching. With the restaurants now open I sometimes go sit in them and write just to sense the company of other humans, even if I don’t know any of them.
I have a lot of work to do today and I needed a hearty breakfast. It’s snowing and twenty degrees. The roads are dangerous even with the heroic efforts of the plows and sand trucks, but out I go, inching slowly down the unpredictable road in four wheel drive, watching for slush and black ice.
I went to a place I like and ordered French toast, sausage and a side of two eggs. The woman behind the counter, who keeps refilling my coffee cup, knows everyone who comes in except me. I’m an intermittent visitor. Farmers arrive, kicking the snow off their muck boots before entering. They’ve been up long before many of us, particularly dairy farmers. Everybody knows everybody else. They talk about family, a new cell tower, sports, etc. They laugh. I’ve not seen this in a restaurant in many years, since I used to eat at the Veseleka restaurant on Second Avenue in New York City, which served a large Ukrainian community.
If I go to Northampton, a town that used to have a street scene, I feel alienated. In the eighties I could sit in a coffee shop and run into four or five people I knew in the course of two hours. All gone. The feeling in the town is slick and rich, but not chummy. It reminds me of LA where there are no neighborhoods except in the Latino communities.
I think of our politics and the various online communities. I think of the bickering and alienation in the ranks. I miss a community of people who live with each other, warts and all. Nowadays, you can be excommunicated for a minor wart. I miss community and I envy what these farmers have. They are community because they need each other and always have, whatever personal gripes and grumbles they may have with each other. The hay needs to get in. When someone is sick, people come to help. Someone has to bury that dead horse so a guy down the road comes with a back hoe. And so it goes. I’m not interested in their politics, which may be different than mine. I want what they have.