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Everybody's Out of Town

When all this is over, what will you do differently?

Bench overlooking ocean
Where is everyone?

York Street is very quiet today. This usually bustling main street of town looks like a back-alley people avoid. I could do a Fred Astaire tap dance sequence up one side and down the other, and bump into no one. There’s room to spare.

I don’t have to cruise between roundabouts to find a parking spot. There are a hundred to choose from. The library is shut. Theatres deserted. Pubs closed. The only busy shop is the chemist, where people hurry in hopeful, and come out disappointed. Obviously the latest order of anti-bacterial hand-wash still hasn’t arrived.

I find myself humming that 1970s song “Everybody’s Out of Town”, music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David.

In the version I’m recalling, B. J. Thomas sings of bare streets, no traffic, no pollution, empty classrooms. He muses on the absence of others as he wanders through his neighbourhood, concluding he’s the only one left.

Two lines add depth to this quirky, semi-serious song:

And it looks like we’re ready To give it one more try

It’s not often society gets such a shock as we’ve had, such a shake-up of our schedules, a re-arrangement of our priorities.

I’m working from home half the time. Hugging no one but my husband. Tap dancing down York Street. And getting ready to give it — life with lots of other people around again — one more try.

What will I do differently?

One thing: Appreciate more.

Going into the library and choosing a book is a privilege. So is watching a good movie on a huge screen with popcorn-munching people surrounding me. Attending an art show or sitting in a jazz club while musicians create sounds that touch the soul — that’s an honour. Playing cricket on the beach with friends or rubbing noses with a grandchild — these things are pure pleasure.

All these things I’ve taken for granted.

I won’t take things for granted when it’s time to give it one more try.

I’m going to do better next time.

For a bit of memorable whimsy, listen to this old but timely song:

With love, Marlane

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