I was chatting with my wife the other day about household finances in the current situation. My wife has lost her two zero hours contract jobs (I’m not sure why they call it a contract when basically it’s a one-way thing; you work when we want you to and if you don’t agree then you don’t work) and adjustments have to be made. I’m not moaning about our finances, just stating a fact, things have to change. Anyway, my wife declares that whilst she enjoys visiting coffee shops it’s not something she particularly misses. A bit ironic really as we can’t go out for coffee anyway in the current countrywide shutdown. Of course, not going out for coffee saves money. The conversation got me thinking about what I miss, and conversely what I don’t in these unusual circumstances.
In a previous conversation, a friend and colleague said he missed the chats over coffee that we’d have on a weekly basis. I too miss this, but it wasn’t just the chats but also the venue, where we were able to somehow hide ourselves in our own little sanctuary, away from what at times felt like the madness of the daily machinations of campus life.
I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the classes, lectures, seminars, workshops, call them what you will. I miss the interaction with the students and that spark that sometimes occurs when you know they’ve got it, they comprehend what it is you are saying. I don’t miss the frustration felt when students for what ever reason just can’t or won’t engage. I don’t miss travelling into work in all the traffic. At least my fuel bill has gone down, and the environment is benefitting.
I miss seeing my boys, I get to speak to them or text them all the time but its not quite the same. They are grown men now but, they are still my boys. I miss being able to see my mum, she’s getting on a bit now. Sometimes I thought it a bit of a chore having to visit her, a duty to be carried out, but now… well its hard, despite speaking to her everyday on the phone.
I miss being able to pop out with my wife to various antique shops and auction rooms in pursuit of my hobby. I’m repairing an old clock now and need some parts. Ebay is useful but its not quite the same as sourcing them elsewhere.
I miss going out to meet my best mate for a beer and a Ruby (calling it a curry just isn’t cool). We’ve been friends for over forty years now and perhaps only meet up every three or four months. We text and chat but its not quite the same.
But what I miss most of all, is freedom. Freedom to see who I like and when I like. Freedom to visit where I like and to chat to whom I like, whether that be in a coffee shop with the owner or another customer or at an auction with other bidders and onlookers. It’s funny isn’t it, we take our freedom for granted until it is taken away from us. All those things that we moan about, all the problems that we see, real or imagined, pale into insignificance against a loss of freedom.