Nothing human is alien to me

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jan 07, 2021

Last year around this time, Maureen and I were starting to get excited about the annual ATV ride up Mt. Washington. The event, begun in 2000, is a fundraiser for the New Hampshire ATV Club, and draws hundreds of riders each year at the end of June.

Tickets were to go on sale one day in January. The event sells out every year, so we wanted to be sure and get online early to purchase ours. As it turned out, the website handling ticket sales had a glitch, and we didn't get tickets at first, although I thought I had paid for them. But those who had tried to purchase tickets and failed because of the glitch were allowed to buy them on another day, so we did get them. We started dreaming about the ride and the view from the top of Mt. Washington.

Then, in mid-March, everything started getting canceled because of the novel coronavirus. The New Hampshire ATV Club held out for a while, but eventually canceled the ride, issuing tickets for the 2021 ride to everyone who had paid for a ticket for 2020.

That was a better outcome than for many events that were canceled this year, which simply didn't happen, full stop. Indeed, looking back on the year just passed brings up a catalog of missing or adapted events: christenings, graduations, family reunions, plays, church services, company parties, weddings, dinners out, cruises, simple evenings with friends. It is a long list, the roll of human interactions forgone or transferred to virtual media. It's a list worth pondering and grieving.

We should grieve, not just for the loss of life, health, economic well-being, but for the hands we didn't get to squeeze, the hugs and kisses we missed out on, the smiles that lit the room a little less because they weren't in the same room with us. For all that I am grateful to have Zoom and FaceTime and the like, virtual is not the same as in-person, and it makes sense that, being social animals (even the introverts among us), we crave not only to touch and be touched, but to be in each other's presence. There is an ineffable something that takes place when we are together, truly present in every sense, and we need that to feel fully ourselves.

Here's to getting a grip on the spread of COVID-19 in 2021; to getting as many people vaccinated as possible; to following the best public health advice, even after we ourselves are vaccinated, until enough people have had shots to keep the virus from getting away from us again.

And here's to seeing friends, family and coworkers in person. To hosting barbecues, having swim parties, holding game nights, going on dates, and all the other wonderful ways we spend time with each other.

I look forward to riding our ATV up Mt. Washington in June; I hope we'll be able to. Even though I'm not a lover of crowds, I imagine it will be thrilling to see a huge mass of 4-wheelers and riders preparing to trek up the mountain, and enjoying the summit. I expect to feel a deep and long-missed sense of belonging.

I hope you will take care of yourself, be careful and stay well. And when you can get vaccinated — I hope you'll do it!

Sarah E. Reynolds is the editor of The Republican Journal.

 

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