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between our steps 06 24 20 double
I miss walking down the aisles of the grocery store and noticing things I had not put on my list that would be useful. I miss the surprise of finding great eggplant or fresh peas and shifting the dinner menu on the spot. Since the middle of March, I've been doing online orders for pick up or delivery.

Being an organized person, it is not hard for me to plan the online order. However, I am getting more forgetful, so a few times I have hit "submit" and then remembered something fairly essential. The menu got readjusted to cope with the missing item that I forgot to ask for.

A couple times, I ordered flour and didn't get any. The brand or type I asked for was not available. The next time, I ordered two types of flour in the hope of getting one. I got both. Which is fine. Flour will keep.

I miss running into people in the store and having an unexpected chat, catching up on what life is bringing to a friend or connecting with someone I would not normally reach out to. Conversations require a specific effort to make a connection. Phones and video options work well, but there is something about the spontaneity of bumping into someone that I miss.

In the line up to check out, when the person in front of me is friendly and supportive of the cashier, I am cheered up. When the cashier is cheerful and helpful, I get a boost. Fortunately, there are delivery people that I get to say thanks to. They sometimes give an update on how many orders their store has prepped that day or what product they have run out of now. They share good stories like how many bags of flour somebody else ordered just to get one.

Inside the store, there are conversations I am near. People complain about the latest action of the government. People comment on trends they like or dislike. These I really miss. The only things I hear are from people I am close to. The only opinions I'm exposed to are my own or those of people I live with. Even social media and internet news sites give me ads and links that fit with what I've shown I am already interested in. My expectation of what it is normal to think is not being challenged.

I don't mind talking to people from two meters away. I have a pretty big personal space bubble. Even under normal circumstances, the person who wants to be right beside me to talk makes me uncomfortable. I have backed away when I could, causing them to chase me across the room. The physical distance we're asked to keep does not make conversation difficult for me. What I miss is kizmet, fate, chance, the accidental standing around casually chatting with someone who just happens to be in the same place I am.

I feel myopic. I am only seeing what is near to me, what I have chosen to place in my world. This is exacerbated by living in the country. There are cars that drive by. Because my road seems to be a favorite for motorcyclists, I do see how many people like to ride a motorcycle, something I have never done and never really wanted to do. But otherwise, I don't see much of what other people are chosing to do.

Noticing what I am missing feels important. There are some patterns from this lock down that I want to keep, like buying directly from farmers. But I also want to notice the gaps in this experience, because there are some patterns that it would not be healthy to replicate in the future.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway

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