First: I miss you. 

We walk for an hour every day. “Taking a walk” is different: it’s a casual, unthinking thing that describes weekend morning trips to the coffee shop and evening strolls. Walking, now – for our quarantined family – is a necessity. I wear a backpack, as if we were hiking, stocked with hand sanitizer and face masks. My children know the drill: Sunscreen, bathroom, shoes with laces (we learned the hard way that sandals, full bladders, and fair skin aren’t ideal for urban exploration).

You can cover a lot of ground in an hour, and living downtown, we have.  Mansions on First Street quickly became boring, and the Greenway is reserved (for us) as “biking only.” We prefer to walk the streets named after presidents, and through the industrial remains of Evansville’s urban core. 

Everything is blooming. 

My husband jokes (only to the children, who already have plenty of fodder for teasing me, but who else can he joke with these days?) that I can’t walk half a block without saying “Oh! Guys! Look at those azaleas [insert any flower/shrub/tree]!” Everything is blooming and lovely, and everyday we leave the house at noon and walk and walk, and see it all. 

We don’t track distance, only time. We MUST walk at least that hour, an arbitrary benchmark that I cling to. It’s too easy, in our collective current state, to feel simultaneously disconnected from the rest of the world and beholden to it. Alienated but also far too intimate. Walking through Evansville connects us to something. Anchors us to something. 

I miss you. I love you.

This is how I try to end all conversations these days. It comes more naturally with some friends than others. (One notoriously unsentimental but very dear friend may stop speaking to me if I don’t stop reminding her that she’s loved.) I miss you and I love you. Saying it connects us, anchors us to a life before sheltering in place, when I didn’t have to miss you, when love was expressed in person. 

Stay well, friends. Read, create, wash your hands and wear a mask. I miss you and I love you. 

Anne McKim is the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana.

Published April 15, 2020.