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Empty

I’ve already photographed all the birds and a couple of squirrels in my neighborhood, painted three of four walls in my living room, tilled by hand a yard of compost into the flower bed, worked on some problems that I have in my website (still unresolved), taken online photography classes, participated in the preparation and consumption of 3 home cooked meals a day, wasted innumerable hours on social media, finished my book and attended my fair share of Zoom meetings (pants optional – wink).

Then I can’t account for the other half of my waking hours – probably pondering, likely in a daze, how this pandemic and the ensuing orders to “stay at home” and shut down are even possible in the United States of America.

I thought long and hard about the stay at home order before I ventured into the city of Saint Louis to have a look around last Monday. What if there are national guard or state police check points ensuring those of us “not at home” were in fact essential? Could I talk my way out of it, maybe bribe, or would I be cast into prison with all the other non-conforming subjects? Sounds dark and conspiratorial doesn’t it? Fresh air and exercise are “essential” for my sanity and good health, so I kissed my sweet Patty as I walked out door hoping I wouldn’t find myself in the Gulog.

The Old Courthouse
Monday April 20, 2020
Photo taken under the Gateway Arch (you can see the shadow cast by the morning sun on the sidewalk in the foreground).

Obviously, my worst fears were not realized because I’m (staying) at home this Sunday morning writing this blog. The photo above is truly unique because on any “normal” spring day this outdoor mall would be full of people (residents and tourists) enjoying the blue sky, blooming red bud trees and green grass. At this moment, it’s just empty. And that’s the way I’ve felt at times in the last several weeks, because besides fresh air and exercise, I need people in my life, I need hugs, I need socialization. Doesn’t everybody?

I am a senior citizen, and as such am in the high risk category for Covid-19. I’m fortunate in that I’m in exile with my partner, Patty. I can only imagine what some people who live by themselves are going through. Prior to all this, I’ve thought about my mortality and have discussed it several times with my friend Ken Weber during our weekly coffee meetings. I think I’m more afraid of being alone than dying, but that’s just me…

I apologize for all the personal pronouns in this article. I’ve said and written many times before that I’m not the center of the universe. Anybody having that epiphany realizes “we’ve always been in this together”.

Maybe that’s why my heart aches for Talisa O’Brien, her four daughters, their family and the staff and clients of Cary O’Brien’s Salon and Spa. My long time customer and friend Cary O’Brien had a fatal heart attack last Thursday two days before his 57th birthday. Not only was Cary a master stylist celebrating the 30th anniversary of the salon, in my experience he was an inspirational leader and teacher for all those he had trained along the way.

A year ago February (2019), after acquiring some new equipment for my fledgling photography enterprise, Cary generously agreed to let me make his portrait to build my portfolio. This is one of my favorites.

Cary, thanks again for your generosity! If I had to choose one word to describe you it would be “classy”. I hope there comes a day soon where all of us can come together celebrate your life and properly mourn your passing. The world is an emptier place without you.

‘words that matter.

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