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I don’t miss wearing socks, and other quarantine musings

By Galen Butler

Galen Butler

I miss …

… Thursday night choir practice. More than any other aspect of church life, I really miss this weekly ritual The camaraderie, deep friendships, sense of family and messages contained in the music are spiritually nourishing. David Byrne described this feeling better than I ever could: “There is a transcendent feeling in being subsumed and surrendering to a group. This applies to sports, military drills, dancing … and group singing. One becomes a part of something larger than oneself, and something in our makeup rewards us when that happens.

… early morning swims in the YMCA indoor pool. The exercise and the solitude of lap swimming provide a balm for my attitude. These workouts also provide the time to visit regularly with the Y early morning crowd. We have been meeting weekly via conference call, and those chats have been a welcome respite from the isolation.

… Friday Noon Rotary meetings at Emmanuel Episcopal Church. We have managed to keep the business of Rotary moving forward (e.g. Annual Grant and Scholarship committees), and we have now had four Friday meetings via Zoom. But nothing can replace that anticipation each week of gathering in person and sharing laughs, fellowship and our commitment to service.

… weekly or so visits to God’s Country (aka Matoaca, Virginia). My mom (88) and dad (93) still live in the house in which they raised their three boys. You can go home again.

… watching English Premier League Soccer on weekend mornings. Somehow proper football does not appeal to the palate of American sports fans. But it is one of my guilty pleasures to lounge before the TV watching what has become my favorite sport.

… traveling. Be it business or pleasure, I quite enjoy the planning and execution of travel. More to come on this topic.

I don’t miss …

… wearing socks. Ahhhhhhhhh! The only time I am wearing socks these days is for tennis.

… TSA lines. This one is especially true during those times when frequent travelers have to mix with infrequent travelers. Alas, my return to business travel will likely coincide with the start of summer break.

… filing expense reports. I have been performing this task at least monthly for the entire 35 years of my professional life.

… the drive on 35 to South Chesterfield and points north. There is plenty to commend this drive the first few times you go. But after hundreds of repeats, not so much.

I am/We are …

… reading more books. My current project is “The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia” by Paul Theroux. Something to satisfy my stifled wanderlust. My next project is to reread Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels.

… taking more walks. By myself or with Cara and the boys, we have been exploring the familiar and unfamiliar neighborhoods of Franklin. The lovely weather and spring time flowers have been a boon.

… titting down at table as a family. The four of us have taken meals together more in the past eight weeks than in the previous eight months. Without the competing schedules of two schools, my business travel, and our church activities, this has been one of the true blessings of quarantine life.

… putting in the flower and vegetable gardens. This one is not unique to quarantine, but I seem to be enjoying and appreciating it more this year. The moving target of last frost has been vexing, I must say.

… playing more tennis. It is one of those sports that can be enjoyed while complying with physical distancing guidelines. I have played weekly with Knox as we try to replace his cancelled High School season.

… watching movies/shows as a family. Two Hitchcock movies (“Psycho” and “Rear Window”) combined with a new Disney+ subscription (for Star Wars fare, of course) have been on the slate so far.

… limiting exposure to Facebook. There seem to be two types of people on FB during quarantine, those who think restrictions should continue, and those who think the cure is worse than the disease. And there is no shortage of “experts” supporting both types. The collective display of smugness is staggering.

We are well and continue to cope with the restrictions. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there are those suffering genuine stress and fear. Folks who work in health care, or in places with outbreaks, or who have lost a close friend or family member, or who have lost their employment or business, they have a right to complain. But those of us who have had to work a little harder than normal to find toilet paper or hand sanitizer or milk or something to watch on TV need to shut up. My parents and their generation were born into the Depression and lived through the prolonged fear, rationing, death and destruction of WWII.

We are and will be OK.

Peace be with you all!

GALEN BUTLER is a resident of Franklin and is currently serving as President of the Rotary Club of Franklin. He can be reached at gfbutler63@gmail.com.