Secondhand Collective Effervescence

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.

5 thoughts on “Secondhand Collective Effervescence

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  1. A nice read, I like the term “collective effervescence”. We have it in our village, but it’s strange how the esteemed one is my wife, not me. I’m asked where she is when I visit the butcher, the pharmacist, the health food shop, the grocery shop. Everyone knows her ……. Because for 25 years she was the school teacher, the teacher they all liked, respected. Now they’re all taller than her, but when we walk into a local bar, the big men all quieten down, the druggies all disappear, everyone speaks to her. Funny that!

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    1. Yes, it really is a great term. That’s so lovely to hear that you’re wife is so loved and well-esteemed in the community, and people respect their old school teacher many years later. It just makes my heart melt! I live in a rather large city, and it’s my hope that in the coming years I can move someplace rural where I know everyone in the community.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re closed for Christmas, but will open New Years weekend, so I’ll be sending a belated holiday greeting. They’re good people. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to return in the next few months.

      Liked by 1 person

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