Every time my boyfriend visits the farmer’s market, the ladies beneath the customer service tent wave and shout, “When is she coming back? We miss her. Don’t forget to remind your honey that she looks like Claire Danes!”
Prior to the pandemic, we had been going every Saturday morning for years. The workers supporting the market are the kindest and most wonderful people, so we became fast five-minutes-a-week friends. They made up a small and delightful slice of my weekends. I baked them gluten-free cookies, chatted about produce and local parades, and sewed up dozens of veggie-print face masks in early 2020.
Once my boyfriend developed Covid and the subsequent antibodies, he asked me to stay home. He had been hospitalized twice for pulmonary embolism and we were both scared, so I graciously complied. The last year has been admittedly lonely. During the seemingly constant surges in infection, I stay home. I wait patiently until my patience wears thin and I need to remind myself why I’m waiting. This, too, shall pass.
I miss the market and those smiling slice-of-life acquaintances. I miss the nameless greeter at Costco with his cartoonish white mustache. I miss the stranger in the green RAV4 with anime decals that drove ahead of me almost every day when commuting to work was still a thing. After months of trying to explain to my boyfriend that his running errands qualifies as some type of shallow socialization that I miss desperately, it clicked.
By chance, I came across the term collective effervescence. Essentially, it describes the action of people coming together and simultaneously communicating the same thought and participating in the same action. This could be attending a rally, playing a team sport, or pursuing vegetables at the local market. It’s exciting to feel that you are a part of something, however small. It’s unifying to be around people with whom you have something in common.
Today, my boyfriend slept in. He didn’t go to the farmer’s market. He didn’t leave, and then come home proclaiming, “Hey! The girls miss you and asked me to remind you that you look like Claire Danes.”
Lately, this secondhand collective effervescence has been the closest thing I’ve had to to human interaction (aside from my wonderful and loving partner, of course!) and I cherish it like a beloved childhood blanket. And, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even know who Claire Danes is. And I don’t particularly care.
What matters is this: every week, a kind acquaintance thinks of me and sends a carrier pigeon to remind me that I am missed. The words don’t matter. To know that you are remembered after 12 months away means more than words could every convey.