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love in the time of Corona...



Sunset.

I was walking on a

brisk cool evening

at sunset. 


The eastern hills burst into a golden pink as the sun peeked from the clouds on its way down. 


For just a moment,

half of 

the world

was lit with

a shield of pink gold. 


Birds' songs echo

beautifully like a slow volley

in the first video game Pong, across the deserted street. 


It is

unusual and eerie

but also

appreciated. 

This quiet.


I keep walking.


A large, winter wrapped

black homeless man on the sidewalk near Walgreens 

turns to me 

and asks,

“Do you have anything you can spare, Ma’am?”

I shrugged and said,“I’m sorry, I didn’t bring anything with me.”


He smiles warmly,that’s ok.”

pause

“I love you.”


I looked at him hard 

and said

“I love you too.”

and

meant it.


As I was walking away, 

a pinpointed aftershock

hit me like lightning.


When was the last time I told a stranger I loved them?

Never.

And here was this man, homeless, at risk, in the cold

who says, genuinely,without restraint,

I

love

you.


He managed to say

the one thing

I really

wanted to hear.


So, I thought, what the f*ck,

it’s a pandemic

I’ll try it.


I spot a tubby man near Safeway, he has thin metal rimmed glasses,

and a plaid shirt tucked in neatly.


We get closer.

I'm preparing.


I’m getting extremely nervous.

How do I say this?

Do I just say it?

Or do I have a runway, like an opening line first??

Maybe a,“Hi. How are you? I love you”

Shit, that doesn’t seem right. 


He is moving closer.

My heart is beating fast.

How is my heart beating this fast?? I think to myself.

Jesus. 


it’s 

just

a

few

words.


Am I sweating? I think I’m sweating. 

Ugh.I’m sweating.


Finally, the

moment

is

here.

We are colliding paths.

I turn to him,

trying to form the words,

but it’s like

my mouth

doesn’t want to do it.


Ready.

Set.

Go.


Wait.He isn’t making eye contact. 

Wait.He is turning his head away from me.


I stop mid-way.

Smile,

and

keep walking.


Try again.

Two nerdy young berkeley collegiates. 

I can do this.

They are millennials. They probably say I love you to everyone they meet.


I f*ckin GOT this. I’m 42.

Twice their age.

I can do this! 


Take a deep breath.

The words still feel like alien language,

almost there.


I……...lllooovv


The couple stares at me.


I can’t do it. 

I cannnnnooot do this.


I stop mid-way. 

Make a 90 turn and dash down the block, 

leaving them on the corner by the crosswalk,

puzzled.


Why can’t I just say it?

I’m embarrassed.

It feels likeI”m breaking some kind of social intimacy rule.


I try 

a few more times.

and fail.


I thought to myself.

Ok.I’m not brave enough to actually say it…

but,what is the next best thing?


What if I just give love out non-verbally?


Project it out.

I decided to choose the middle ground

of waving hello and smiling. 


I do this while I am running the 

Olone Trail.


I am pretty sure most people think

I’m crazy.


With a big smile and a wave,

give love.


Most people stare straight ahead, fixed on a 

narrow bit of path in front of them.

Some are startled by it. 


Two elderly men looked at me straight in the eye

and turned away quick.


But, I sent it anyway. 


I almost wrote:

because love is free.


So cheesy! Bleck.


But, you know what I mean. 


Love is our resource and it is in scarce supply right now.

Kindness is our ally.


Every day we are faced with deep questions

about the kind 

of person

we want to be

in a time of crisis.


Do we want to be more kind?

More helpful?

More empathetic?

or less?


If we are lucky enough to survive,what will we remember standing up for?


xoxo,

Melissa

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