I Miss a Feeling I’ll Never Get Back
Turns out, having a sense of certainty about the future was always a luxury
Recently I watched a Broad City episode in which people were lined up outside a bakery for a macaron/churro pastry combo. It made me laugh — over-the-top pastry trends have been such a thing in New York City for the past few decades — but the scene also felt jarring. I realized I was worrying for everyone standing in line: They weren’t respecting social distancing!
“Imagine going out without a mask,” I think, only to remember that I was doing that last month. “Imagine not sanitizing your hands when you walk through the door.” And then, a more melancholy sentiment arises: “Imagine being so sure that tomorrow would look the same as today.”
More than I miss going to restaurants, getting massages, or riding the subway to see a friend, I miss a feeling. And, unlike meeting a friend for a drink at a sidewalk café, it’s something that won’t ever happen again. It’s a feeling lost in another time, in the world the Broad City characters are inhabiting: It’s the feeling of stability.
Now I know that it was a luxury to have that feeling: the delusion that anything is within my control, that anything can be predicted. Like the other comforts that have slipped away, it’s something I took for granted because I assumed it would always be there.
You’d think I would have learned all this already. I know what it’s like to have my world turned upside down by suffering and I know what it’s like to have my universe rocked by loss. Vast swaths of the population have lived with more discomfort and uncertainty than I have, but like most adults, I’ve experienced great losses that messed with my perception of certainty and my illusion of control. My life has been shaken up by sudden deaths, a home fire, serious illness. And even still, I believed in the illusion of stability. I believed that, though I might experience a personal tragedy, the world around me would still look pretty much the same as it always did. People around me will still line up for trendy pastries even when my own life is falling apart.
Missing a feeling is hard because you can never visit it. You can’t write to it and…