This is the holiday weekend I would look forward to for months.
We have a few war veterans in our family who have passed, and when we remember we put out the flag in honor of all veterans, but for our family this was never a weekend of parades or salutes.
This was the long weekend that launched the summer. The weekend when we made the three-hour drive up to the 6000-foot elevation and pried open the doors of the cabin, let out the stale air and checked the cupboards for the supplies we’d need at the town grocery Saturday morning. The weekend when we’d run the weed-wacker and rake the yard so the dogs and boys could run and so we could set up the horseshoe pit/ bocce ball court. When we’d roll out the charcoal barbecues and crack open a few beers, enjoy each other’s conversation, talk baseball and family history with my uncle Art and look forward to burgers and an evening of card playing and more conversation.
Ah Memorial Day Weekend. The cabin. Just saying these words brings wispy happy thoughts. Instant nostalgia.
A few weeks ago the New York Times asked readers for their thoughts on what they missed most about their New York during the pandemic shutdown. A beer in a tavern. Sunday Mass. The bakery, the diner. A train, any train. Hugs.
Not to be outdone, I posed the same question to Memphians last weekend, and their answers were most of what we might expect. Memphis spring events – Crawfish Fest, Hot Wing Fest, BBQ Fest. Going to church. The farmer’s market. Patio brunches. Hugs.
Me, I miss crowds. Crowds big enough for waiting. A one-hour wait for a table, two-deep at the bar waiting to order drinks. Shoulder to bouncing shoulder listening to live music. Sitting in a crowded movie theater, watching the trailers in heady anticipation for the main feature, the crowd in such a buzz that even the people behind me have stopped talking. Squeezed in elbow to elbow with fellow baseball fans, balancing peanuts and a hot dog on my knees, feeling the rush of the crowd rising out of their seats in unison, cheering a game-changing home run in the eighth, and turning around and high-fiving the three guys I’ve known for seven innings.
Crowds to me mean so many things – comradery, community, health, a healthy economy! And there’s nothing like the feeling that because of the crowd, wherever you are is THE place to be. Part of that is youth – which I no longer have at my beck and call – and the other abandon, which is difficult to summon these days.
I miss all those things. Crowds and hugs and just being out. But as I thought about what I miss most, my thoughts kept returning to something less tangible – the truth.
I miss the truth. A truth. Some semblance of a universal truth with regard to, well, anything. A general understanding of some order, that someone is in charge, that there is a truth that can be more or less agreed upon, like when the New York Times actually printed All the news that’s fit to print, or when Walter Cronkite told us That’s the way it was.
I am not so naïve to know that there has never been such a thing. Not during the Great Depression. Not even during World War II. Disagreement is human nature. Each person’s truth is theirs alone. But it seems that at no other point in the history of time, with all the access we have to information, have we disagreed more on what the truth is.
Problem is is that there’s so much out there. Between FaceBook and Twitter and traditional newspapers (that are disappearing) and the evening news and altered videos and alternative facts . . . feels as though we can’t even agree on the color of the sky. As a nation we’ve seen almost 100,000 people die from the coronavirus – men, women, husbands, wives, friends – over 1000 a day. One thousand each 24 hours. Yet with disagreements left and right, civil discourse has gone out the window. NextDoor, already a landing place for the angry, feels like a cesspool. Where’s our compassion? Is anyone in mourning? And have we now gotten to the point where the lunatics really are running asylum?
Those weekends at the cabin – Memorial Day Weekend in particular – was not only a return to those days of my youth, but a return to something I had missed since the prior fall. The cabin meant that everything was ok, that we were ok. A comforting blanket that settled the nerves and calmed the soul, even if just for a few days. I miss that.
And, it was another chance to converse again, at length, for hours, with my uncle Art.
We lost my uncle in ’01 two months after September 11. My aunt sold the cabin a few years back. But during those bygone days he and my aunt and the cabin were the places where I had always sought the truth. My uncle was my Walter Cronkite. He was the guy I could turn to, while we waited for the charcoal to be ready, and ask What really happened that year, or that other year, or that time when…? He’d look at me, take a drag off a smoke, and lean in, and say “You don’t need to know that. But if you really want to know, I’ll tell you this much…” It was always the truth.
I miss that too.
~Mark Fleischer, May 22, 2020
Memphis, What Did You Miss During The Shutdown?
Here’s what some of you said over the last week. We had over 150 responses; my apologies if we could not include you.
Nearness, Hugs & Family
I miss socializing! Hugs, get -togethers with close friends, drinks on patios during Memphis’ most beautiful season, live music, celebrations with family, working at the coffee shop, and lunches with colleagues and friends. ~Nancy Knight
Being able to pop into the grocery store or hardware store for just an item or two I need. Currently I wait as long as possible and compile a big list, and use a delivery service. I’m grateful my son is here with me or I would really be missing hugging and touch. ~Mary Norman
Visiting my disabled adult son. ~Kathleen Woodruff Wickham
I miss seeing my adult children and granddaughter. ~Tonda Thomas
Hugs and structure. I’m essentially a toddler. ~Tracy Adkissonne
Hugging and hanging out with my grandkids. We haven’t gotten to hold our newest granddaughter, born March 19. Not once! ~Susan L. Ratner
Hugging friends and family. Shopping at Eclectic Eye. Memphis spring events (Crawfish Fest, Hot Wing Fest, BBQ Fest, etc.). Gathering with friends at our amazing local restaurants. ~Beth Blose Wilson
Watching my beautiful daughter’s ballet performances, and perform her end-of-year recitals and shows. ~Liz Rincon
My daughter. My Mama, my sisters and my brother. I’ve missed my family. ~Tami Parker Theobald
Just Being Out, Seeing Faces
Swimming pools and Memphis in May. ~Taylor Sherbine. A real Memphis spring. ~Sarah Stramel. Spring nights on patios with my friends. ~Ava McDaniel
Shopping for clothes, in person! ~Amanda Willoughby. Date night with Jason Henning at Young Avenue Deli – cheese sticks and a pint of devils harvest please!!! Soon babe!! ~Amy Henning
Live music, restaurants, hanging out with my friends at the Young Avenue Deli, but maybe most of all, watching my surprising Memphis Grizzlies go up against the LA Lakers in the NBA playoffs. ~Gordon Alexander. Working and seeing family. ~Loretta Hopper
My granddaughter, my kids, my Tigers, my Memphis Grizzlies…and my pickleball. ~Corey Mesler
Talking with students at the U of M. ~Charles Belenky. Being face-to-face with my students. ~Eric Gottlieb. My YMCA members. ~Sharon Gunlock
Church fellowship and social gatherings. Also, my two grands had birthdays during this period so I did not drive over to celebrate and visit; sent the gift early. ~Yvonne K Chapman
Being face to face with friends. Going to church. Singing in the church choir. ~Peggy Latham McClure
In general: Being around my grandchildren and friends. In Memphis: popping out to run an errand without fear. ~Pixie Woodall
The confidence that I’m safe around people. ~Shelly Forrest Thomas
Liberty. ~Roy Tamboli
I miss being ignorant about how many of my fellow Memphians are so dang selfish that they won’t wear a face covering to help stop the spread of this disease. ~Stephen Usery
Ignorance about people’s level of intelligence and level of consideration for other people. Now it’s noted for all time. ~Katherine Schwartz
Competent and sane leadership! Sorry, I just had to go there. ~Daniel Dixon
The freedom to go anywhere and everywhere blithely unaware of the germs all around us, and not needing to suffocate under a mask or wash ones hands over and over again! ~Patricia Sheehan Harrison
Italianfest and all gatherings with music and friends. ~Judy Vandergrift
Going to shows. Being out in public without worrying if you’re infringing on someone. Going to Overton Park. Trying new restaurants in person. ~Sherrie Michelle Lemons
My office, theater, dinners out, church, Target, spontaneous nights out with friends, birthday parties with kids, school. ~Anna Kathryn Word
Going to the movies at Malco, choice of lunch or dinner spots, being able to catch a band with friends, enjoying late night drinks downtown. ~David Merrill
Pandemic or not, I live a whole state away and I still miss Leonard’s barbecue over there off Mount Moriah. ~Jay Phillips
Dining out or in with my friends. Hugging my children. Patios and laughter. ~Jean Lunsford
Pho Binh buffet. ~Bianca Phillips
Swimming pools and my nail tech. Amerigo’s Scallops Veneto and drinks on Bhan Thai patio with my tribe. ~Ava McDaniel
40th wedding anniversary river boat cruise down the Mississippi River. ~Sharron Holloway Johnson
I’m missing seeing everyone at Spillit and hearing your stories. ~Josh Campbell
Memphis. I have missed Memphis. ~Ellen Morris Prewitt
The adventure of a weekend. Popping in here and there, running into people he or I or we know, hugs and laughter or delicious gossip. Hearing what friends are into right now. Finding treasures to buy, like fresh produce and flowers from the downtown farmers market. An invitation to dinner, a deck hangout with tiki torches and the smell of citronella and eating too many of the cookies or brownies or chips and dip. Falling into bed with a solemn prayer that we are the luckiest people in the world to know the great people we know. ~Kim Bearden
Live outdoor music at the shell. the sound of everyone crowded into the midtown Starbucks. impulsively meeting with friends at a brewery for beers. Going to any Memphis festival to check it out. Any local dive bar with live music. ~Bill Simmers
Travel travel travel. Travel to family, travel to friends, travel to new experiences. ~Barbara Sysak
My Spartan Sisters’ dinners – Marcy Faber Tashie, Dallas Lavergne, Claudia Reyna Wade – Diva Nails with Courtney B, Capelli with Katherine Pitt, Home Goods and TJ Maxx with Mom, date nights with my husband all over Memphis. ~Kelly Fleischer
All the places: Church, Sunday’s with family/friends eating lunch, Department stores and shops we could go to that are still closed. Mostly the hustle and bustle of people in our workplace and out and about. ~Theresa Messina Locastro
The Little Things
Running to the store for one or two items. ~Karen Casey.
Uplifting companionship. ~Salahuddin Muhammad.
Paychecks. ~Marissa Kizer
Grandkids, restaurants, and aimlessly wandering around Home Depot looking for something useful. ~Steve Redding.
The solace of a funeral service. ~Jenna Sais Quoi
I have to be honest…my longtime boyfriend and 3 dogs who were also 15-yr companions, all died in February. ~Cary Miller
Not a thing. I’m in a quieter phase of life now, I guess. ~Andrew Cohen
My guys love their chess nights on Fridays at Backyard Burger, my husband can’t go re-learn guitar with the guys at Howard Vance, my older son can’t hang with his friends, my younger son misses piano lessons…
Me? I’m such an introvert. This isn’t a whole lot different than day to day life for me. I do miss cotton candy fro-yo from TCBY.
I do wish I could send my son to camp next month. It would have been his last year. That gets me.
I’m extremely worried about small businesses. I’m trying so hard only to buy from the little guy right now. More than ever before, which is likely one of the reasons they’re hurting so much – I didn’t make an effort until now.
I worry about older people who can’t visit with family and friends.
I worry about the increase in domestic violence.
I worry terribly about the kids who had nowhere to go when the schools shut down. Their parents couldn’t just stop working. And what about the fall? There’s no guarantee that we’ll be safe by then, no matter what arbitrary end-date is selected for re-opening.
I’m sad for all the kids who didn’t get a graduation.
I worry about the people who have lost their jobs, and the people who will not have jobs when things really are safe again because the businesses where they worked have either gone under or have learned that they can operate just fine with fewer employees.
And I worry about the population explosion we’re about to have. We don’t have enough jobs, enough food, enough teachers, enough medical professionals, or enough housing to handle what will be hitting us from about January 2021 onward. And it’ll be across the globe. We’re about to be in serious trouble.
But me? I just really miss my fro-yo. ~Michele Somers Cullen
Thanks to everyone who participated!