Between this post and the last, my husband and I stopped by one of our favorite local cafés for coffee. It was a chilly afternoon, too cold to sit at an outside table so we thought we’d take our coffees and a treat to go.
This café is much loved in our community for its warm and welcoming atmosphere, friendly staff, good food, and most especially, its calendar of events from hosting live music and literary readings to providing space for social groups with a variety of interests. Thankfully, they’ve been able to weather the shutdown and restrictions on restaurant service imposed by the pandemic. They quickly adapted to Zoom and were able to continue to offer many events in a virtual format.
During our visits in recent months, we’ve been heartened to see other “regulars” socially distancing in line to support the café. Stepping up to the counter to order we were greeted by a familiar server who invited us to sit inside if we’d like. I could feel my jaw drop behind my mask. She said they’d just been given the go-ahead to resume inside service on a limited basis. What we had so long taken for granted before the pandemic, suddenly felt like such a privilege. We happily sat at a corner table. One other customer, a musician we recognized, sat at a table in the shadows, nursing a beer.
I began to feel a bit conspicuous as other folks came in to place orders and glanced over at us before they reached the counter. Once or twice I was briefly on the receiving end of the same type of look I had likely thrown at someone who’d obnoxiously flaunted a mask requirement elsewhere.
Hmmm… It will take us a while to re-acclimate ourselves to each other as we ease back into our routines. I imagine there will be some situations that will bear all the awkwardness of a first date. An elbow bump or a handshake? Either way, I’m grateful we’re finally beginning to cautiously head in that direction.