I miss bars. Loud ones. Quiet ones. Dark ones. Smelly ones. I miss dive bars the most, but at this point I miss cocktail bars, and sports bars, and tapas bars, and fancy bars I can’t afford. I miss rambling through North Beach, SoMa, the Lower Haight, the Castro, the Mission, bumping into random friends I haven’t seen in years, meeting new people while in line for the bathroom, getting my ear talked off with tall tales and long lies by the old drunk sitting on the barstool next to me. I miss the buzz of being buzzed while buzzing through this bustling city at night.
I miss restaurants. I miss sitting at the counter, sitting at a table, sitting on the back patio, standing at a communal table. I miss fine dining, casual dining, casual fine dining, fast food. Eating lunch alone with a book and watching people just being people. Getting sushi with Kayla at the spot down the street that’s been five different sushi places in the last eight years. Ordering half the menu at a place with lots of small plates because I’m with a bunch of friends and we wanna try everything. Being able to walk out my front door and find food from almost any region in the world. I miss sassy servers who are knowledgeable, quick-witted, and fun. I miss solemn servers who are having a bad day and just trying to get through the shift. I miss the sound of Norteño music waltzing through the restaurant din every time the kitchen door swings open. I miss brunch…actually, I don’t really miss brunch that much. Unless it’s drag queen brunch. I love drag queen brunch.
I miss hugging people. I miss hugging them when I run into them on the street, in the park, at the grocery, on Muni, on BART, at parties. Goddamn I miss parties. I miss birthday parties, and engagement parties, and house parties, and late-night living room dance parties. I even kinda miss going away parties, because at least I got to be around people while we collectively celebrated our common love for someone.
I miss protesting. I miss shutting down City Hall, shutting down Market Street, shutting down BART stations, shutting down the freeway, shutting down fascists who try to march in our cities, because this is the Bay Area and that’s what we do. I hate that we still have to protest all this shit, all the time, but I miss the solidarity of fighting with others to achieve a better world. Doing it at home in your pajamas just isn’t the same.
I miss my family. I hate that we had to cancel Passover and Mother’s Day. I hate that we had to postpone my grandma’s gravestone unveiling and my wedding. I hate that I’m afraid to see my parents because they’re the prime demographic of people who die from COVID and I don’t want to unknowingly infect them.
I hate that hundreds of thousands of people have died from this virus worldwide. I hate that it’s destroying livelihoods and life savings. I hate that our federal government has bungled this pandemic so badly and continues to do so. I hate that we have thousands of empty hotel rooms in our city yet our homeless neighbors still sleep in the streets. I hate that this is one of the richest cities in the history of the world, and yet the people with all that money aren’t doing anything to help it during the pandemic.
Yet, despite all of this, I am so incredibly grateful. I am grateful to our frontline medical workers who are fighting this pandemic. I’m grateful to the people working at groceries, pharmacies, and corner stores. The people delivering food and medicine to our homes. The people picking and processing the things we eat, even though our president calls them subhuman names and tries to lock them in cages. I’m grateful to all the people risking their lives so I can sit inside and try to remember if I brushed my teeth or showered that day. And I’m grateful for the local and state governments who stepped up to handle this like the true crisis it is.
Yes, I miss things. If you couldn’t tell, I miss a lot of things. But it’s worth missing all those things for a little while so that we don’t end up having to miss them forever.
Stay safe, stay sane, wash your hands, and cover your face. And when this is all over, I’ll see you at the bar.
Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.