Little Losses

by | Nov 27, 2020 | 4 comments

One minute you’re here
Next minute you’re gone
– Bruce Springsteen, ‘One Minute You’re Here’

I used to walk downtown a lot. Sometimes for an acupuncture appointment or work meeting. On other occasions, I’d run errands or go for a cinnamon bun at Bubby Rose’s. Whatever the reason, I used to make the thirty minute journey there and thirty minute journey back several times a month.

The pandemic has changed this. Like many of us, my circle is smaller now. Among much else, this contraction has affected my walks into town. What was once every week or so has now atrophied to – well, in all honesty, I cannot recall how long its been since I last made the trip.

This absence has had an impact. I’ve not strolled through Oak Bay Junction in a while, for one thing. I’ve not peeked in to see how Sound Hounds is doing, what the new barber shop’s up to, what the latest incarnation of the Winchester Galleries site might be. I’ve not checked in on the crumbling house near Central Middle School. Not wandered by that orange-hued fitness place that used to house HtO.

And it’s been a while since I saw Geoff.

I first met him when he was working as a barista at a local Starbucks. My daughter and I went there frequently. Through her interest, he and I struck up a conversation about the Beach Boys. This soon became a broader exchange about music. Then, as months and years flowed by, an even longer dialogue – one extending well beyond his tenure at the coffee shop.

For a while, I’d run into him outside the retail outlet that became his new job. The last couple years, however, we’d cross paths somewhere along my route into and back from town. We once ran into each other outside Peacock’s Billiards, for example, and picked up our conversation there. We passed a chilly but enjoyable hour discussing early-era Chicago and an amazing Russian cover band called Leonid and Friends.

Like much in the past few months, however, these meetings and this conversation are on pause. Just as I’ve not been downtown much recently, I’ve not seen Geoff in ages. We’ve not spoken of the new box-set from Joni Mitchell, my recent enjoyment of Stan Getz, and whatever he might be listening to these days.

I really miss this. Circumstances have changed, as we all are well aware, and this little piece of my life – a sliver I hadn’t fully appreciated before – has fallen away. I do know, of course, that in the midst of a global pandemic, losing an occasional encounter with a casual acquaintance is no comparison for what others are suffering. But this little loss is making itself felt right now.

I’ve been enjoying the new Bruce Springsteen record, for instance. In the absence of Geoff’s intermittent companionship, I’ve no one to speak with about the delicious ways Springsteen’s voice frays during ‘If I was the Priest’, no one to share the Orbison-like heartache that accompanies the lyric, “Baby, baby, baby / I’m so alone”.

Like I said, this loss is making itself felt right now.

And life seems a little diminished as a result.

– Neil


  1. A smile came to my face when I realized that my house and your house are reverberating with the same music these days, Neil. As he always does, Bruce speaks to the time in which we are living and gets to the very heart of it all. Much gratitude for your thoughtful post. You could finish that last line with "Baby, Baby, Baby, I’m coming home"…

    • It is amazing what links us across time and space, Karen. On the one hand, one could say it’s just a song or two. On the other hand, however, a little filament of connection. And, of course, Bruce speaks to this too: ‘I’ll see you in my dreams…’

  2. I sure enjoyed this post after finishing a long day of "zoom education" on line with students. I’m sitting here fondly recalling how I used to stop at our local bakery between school visits. It strangely seems years ago. There was a community table where anyone could sit. There, I made friends with a retired pastor, a NAMI advocate, and a retired school superintendent—who is almost 90. It was the table that brought us together. We were strangers to each other before that. It soon became a weekly ritual to meet at the community table. I liked these old me because we were all REAL with each other and they were funny. Nothing was held back. We covered so many topics–serious to ridiculous and soon I noticed those men were giving each other rides to doctor appointments and going on trips together—me, the odd lady teacher, just popping in to say hello and glean wisdom and a good laugh once in awhile. We had inside jokes and there were always hugs. We even brought our family members to the bakery to meet each other. Together, we all hosted a baby shower for the cashier at the bakery. Those three men assure me via text that they still meet when possible outside with masks and continue to be a strong support for each other, but it’s not the same they admit. It was such an honor to get to know them over a cup tea and be included in a small way–they saw me as quirky for joining them, but I adored them. The bakery closed permanently due to Covid-19 and I have mourned this ritual and weekly connection. I realized as I read your post that my heart began to grieve that loss. It feels so small in comparison with everything going on in the world right now, but it feels good to have permission to acknowledge it. What a beautiful gift connection is and how subtle and mysteriously it forms and how quickly it can disappear. With gratitude~Priscilla

    • Thanks for this, Priscilla. Having read your comment, I find myself now sitting here very quietly, feeling all the tables that have been lost of late. Small losses, perhaps, in a comparative sense, but oh so great in their own way.


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