Mindy, Molly, UofO Urbanists and Hiro :::
You know what I miss, hugely? Being able to meet up with someone unexpectedly, to chat, worry about something together, recall a former time, say I’m sorry for that bad thing—that’s my urbanity—those encounters with familiar people, people I care about deeply, though perhaps not the very closest to me, not lovers, not relations, not colleagues, even. People when I am with them I know some of what to expect but then there is always something new and unexpected and surely a reason to laugh. It’s why I love living in a walking neighborhood…
Pick a place—anyplace—in the city and go there and wander the neighborhood. [I love doing this with another person.] Chat to people along the way but be sure to sample some food or stop in a local shop or snoop in backyards if you’re able… Have a local beer. But of course I am just talking fantasy here because this is what I can’t do now.
There is a curious age-related aspect of this time for me. Being in my 80s, I realize in a new way in my life how measured time is. Yes, it is measured, for all of us always, and sometimes it is good to remember that…but this is different in that that unknown chunk of time between now and death is more and more tangible.
So many people are suffering. Yet I am blessed for having the wherewithal to isolate [income, health, stable home, supportive friends, demand-free time], great skills of solitude, and challenges like learning a new sketching app. [I am thinking about a gazebo sort of structure that I am planning to build.] All I really have to assure is that I avoid this virus/not pass it to anyone else.
Dear Mindy, David, Molly and everyone who are part of U of O,
I was writing “A mug cup” in my reply to the question “How are you seeing/hearing/tasting..” The scene of everyday life has been transformed since the start of this sheltered states of living. A mug cup becomes my anchor. I need a familiar comfortable reliable non-technical most common thing which can be with me, soothes me, and makes sure that I am alright and keep living as usual. A mug cup can do it. I don’t need to “log in.”
A mug cup at the coffee shop, is something I am missing. For just a cup of tea or coffee, do we have to be afraid of contaminating others and being contaminated? The people around when I was zipping into a mug cup were part of the comfort given with the taste of hot thing in my mouth. “Chats” on the screen do not give that kind of surrounding air, “noise,” unexpected miracles of encountering that David mentioned. So, a mug cup is filling my life with those everything that contain what is called living, the most common and yet “unusual” stage of life. And the city and its streets are part of me as a common usual person who just needs a mug cup in a decent everyday life setting- a stage of our common life.
Here in this domain of common life there shouldn’t be any inequality: any person can be there, join the party, talk a joke, cheer, have beer, cry, laugh, and love. Why should we need to ask permission if I can “log in” and pay for it? Did we do that when we were born in this world? People were just there around you, helping you to come out from your shelter, and waiting you to join into that most common “unusual” place called a world. There we could breath on our own with the unlimited supply of air, layers and layers of scenes where we meet others in their specific characters and destinations.
We learned that this common ground called everyday life is not something we take for granted. We are making it to happen. We need to believe in it, trust it and care for it. And most importantly for our common life to be common, we need to share our concern for our solidarity for the steady and trustworthy basis of this most unusual usual thing called life. And particularly a life in the city we love. This is where a mug cup is most brilliant in its commonality. What a wonderful thing it was that we talked in a restaurant, coffee shop and in the street while strolling main streets, Broadway and in the city of Orange. I missed a time with a mug cup in those scenes in the company of you and people in the street, and hope that it is coming back.
No, not just waiting for it, we take it our responsibility to make that it is coming back! We profess it. That is the spirit of U. of O. that I love.
Joining from Fukuoka, Japan
Hirofumi Minami is an environmental psychologist on the faculty of Kyushu University. He was in New York on sabbatical just after the fall of the World Trade Center and became a part of the NYC RECOVERS project. He contributed many ideas and visits to Mindy’s Main Street project.
David Chapin is an architect on the faculty of the City University of New York. “I met David when he worked with the Community Research Group on the 2001-2003 project “NY RECOVERS.” He has been helping me with my Main Street study and we have explored and photographed many Main Streets together including one of my favorites, Newark Ave. in Jersey City.” – Mindy Fullilove.