The email came last last night. A 14-year-old named Alessandra sent me a message containing only four words—four words. After reading her message, I wore a large smile because I needed those four particular words.
Yesterday I looked over my pre-pandemic photos because my phone began throwing old memories in my face. And do you know something? My life was once so full.
Before the virus, I was traveling, doing fun stuff, eating at restaurants, going to ballgames, dancing the Mashed Potato with officially licensed team franchise mascots while holding a 24-oz beer can. Those days are over—at least for now.
On my phone I saw photos from the work trip my wife and I took to New York a few years ago. What a trip it was. I couldn’t believe how wonderful the tomato pies were, or how the cab drivers cheerfully drove upwards of 120 mph on sidewalks.
There were photos from our visit out West. My wife and I were posed beside various mountains, canyons, and rust-colored hillsides.
I have photos taken in Texas. We pulled over at a barbecue joint. There were no structures around for miles. Only a tin shack on the plains. A waitress came to our table, she had no menus, she simply said, “Food or beer?”
“Both,” we said.
And that was that. When our mountain of brisket arrived, it came served in zinc motor-oil pans. The beer was so cold it hurt your teeth. “Welcome to Texas,” the waitress said.
We have photos from our extensive travels through Alabama. Alabama is the state that adopted me when nobody else would. And although I am not a native son, the Yellowhammer State lies a few dozen miles from my hometown, and our preachers often quote Bear Bryant from the pulpits.
So I miss seeing the U.S. I miss the way things used to be before we humans had so much fear to…