A LITTLE at a time, regaining ground always finds new meaning with each step. At least that was how I felt, as the three of us were again led by circumstance towards an old haunt that had been our comfort during the pre-Covid days.
Other than a tiny voice in my head admonishing our choice of remaining outside, the eternal words of “one small step for man” kept a constant playback and seemed to accompany our more dominant feeling at the moment.
Seriously, us three (again) chose to heed the call of the tummy in favor of the general advice to break quarantine, at least for a teeny wheeny bit.
As though it were any consolation, our favorite diner was a third empty. That means us few lawbreakers could still social-distance our way to a full stomach. Even then, we needn’t worry about another justification; we were really hungry, period.
For us boys, we had brought the car to the shop to change the oil and let it have the decent check up it hadn’t gotten since the end of last year. Imagine that. For the mum, a trip to the mall, carefully planned with quarantine battle gear in tow, was really needed. So, after our two to three hours stay at the car shop, we proceeded to pick her and what do you know, lunch time.
Finally seated in an isolated corner of the diner, the weird feeling of having to dine, with strangers all around, slowly overcame us. Finally, my son felt the elephant in the room and said, “It has been more than a year since we have eaten out!” So there.
Not really a big deal for most people but for us, this was a slight poke. These are new and stranger times indeed. The old days of enjoying ordinary pleasures such as this, we have taken for granted. In a flash they have been taken away. All without fanfare, without drama. Alas, those days are really over, even if ironically made fresh again in the light of this “new” normal.
The mum had said that in a way, this was an unmasking of sorts, although I myself, up to now still could not relate. She might have referred to us taking off our shields and masks in front of strangers in a public setting but I just remembered that all I felt at the moment was a slight conflict inside.
Yes, for us three to again enjoy a meal outside after more than a year might have been a good thing. Everyone deserves this simple joy as reward for lasting this long.
However, maybe a bit lesser for us. I just wish that those who’ve struggled more (and I know there are many) could likewise enjoy these simple joys as well. I wish we could fill the restaurant up with them when the pandemic is finally over. Now, wouldn’t that be the most symbolic unmasking of all time?
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