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Party Like a Rock Star...At a Distance

Guess what? Birthday parties are back! They are the strangest events ever, but who cares? They're events. (Drink) A couple days ago, Kaleb was invited to join in a birthday car parade led by the local police department. There were about a dozen cars plus a fleet of police cars and even an ambulance and a firetruck. I have to admit, I got a little verklempt as we all rallied (drink) behind the birthday boy who was beaming ear to ear and later declared it the best birthday ever!

We all decided to make a second loop, not wanting the "party" to end. Kids were hanging out windows and a few had climbed out sunroofs and were perched on car roofs, prohibiting their parents from pulling back onto the main road.

I don't think any parents really wanted to anyway. So we stopped. And the kids went from hanging out of cars to physically getting out of cars. I could sense a moment of panic among the parents as the kids spilled out onto the street. But there was no need for alarm. (Drink) The kids were well trained and stopped as they inched closer to one another. One by one, moms followed their children and we all stood in sort of an awkward, but relieved social circle. Relief, not only because our kids were handling the situation way better than we originally feared, but also because we were about to experience some social interaction ourselves, this time, outside the constraints of Zoom. There was even live music - one mom brought out her ukulele!

Thinking we were just going to do a quick "Happy Birthday drive-by," I had brought Cynthia and Eleanor along. They were more than happy to follow the lead of the big kids and ran off to play a game I later learned was called "Corona Virus," a socially distanced version of tag with distinct parallels to Marco Polo. About an hour later, we finally said our goodbyes and left, a little dirtier (Kaleb forgot his shoes and Eleanor fell on her bum), but with a healthy dose (drink) of much needed social interaction, albeit at an odd distance.

Today, Abigail was invited to a similar event, but this time, as we pulled up to the birthday girl's house, there were chairs set up on her front lawn, carefully distanced six feet apart. Most of the girls were wearing masks and I couldn't help but take a picture of what seemed to be the new normal in birthday parties. (Drink) This time, no parents had stuck around, so for the first time since this all began, I dropped Abigail off and returned almost two hours (drink) later to find a socially distanced party still in full swing. It's amazing what you can do at a distance on a sunny day and these girls were so thrilled just to be in each other's company, out from behind the lens of the camera, even just for an afternoon.

While it was wonderful to see some semblance of socializing materializing, I couldn't help but feel a little wistful for what once was. I had the sinking sense that these birthday parties would be the first of many changes to come and there would be many new normals to adjust to. Part of me is glad to see we are discovering ways to move forward. But a lot of me finds it hard to accept that more changes are imminent and I'm not ready to let go of the past. So (drink) I'll hang on a little longer, remembering the days when kids could actually touch each other during a game of tag, and friends would hug the birthday girl. And each day, the new normals won't feel so new and I won't dissect every emotion associated with them. But I'll never forget how it (drink) once was. And I'll never stop hoping to get at least some of the past back.

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