Our wedding anniversary approaches, so let me tell you about three women who aren't my wife.
No, wait. Let me tell you first about three millennials, also not spouses of mine. Don't even know them, actually.
My wife and I were returning from a late-night walk, when we became aware of three younger people, 21 at most, following in our same general direction and maintaining a COVID-suggested distance. Beautiful youth: they could have been cast for an ad, like, one of those old Benetton ads. The young man was Black. One of the women was White. The other was of Pacific-Asian background. I did not glean this right away. We saw them clearly when we parted directions at our street.
Something was off.
"No... It's down this street."
"You can't remember?"
"Wait, I recognize this house..."
Since they were gaining ground, we paused at the corner streetlight and stepped aside. They passed, crossed our street, and then turned and headed north.
I realized what was out of joint as we walked south towards our house.
They were trying to find some place, and they did not resort to using cellphones. We're of an age now where we, or at least I, assume some millennials and Gen-Z's can't find the back yard without a GPS. Why didn't they just text or phone the homeowner, or you know, someone? Surely they must have had someone's number. But there they were, wandering around like we did back in the day, trying to find that house that was hosting the cool party. Was this one of those PBS reality shows, where a group of people have to live like Victorians or pioneer settlers?
A night later, we found the house-- at least, I assume so. Where our street finally ends, three blocks north of us, across the street, a house was rocking. The music was not too loud, but the crowd appeared to violate COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations. I recognized the guy from the previous night, standing on the porch with a group of people who were laughing and casually imbibing.
We took note of the place in future perambulations, but it has since, in our experience, gone silent. A two-night summer party? Parents out of town? Neighbours complained? Authorities turned up and cautioned them about keeping safe distance? The parties continue, just not on nights when we happen to walk by?
A minor mystery.
We attended the second of the socially-distanced writer/artist workshop/gatherings organized by a local playwright. It resembled the first one, but in a more urban setting. Many of the same people participated. A cellist played as we gathered. She left once we started-- she had an outdoor wedding next on her itinerary. Chairs were set far apart. My wife sang two songs, including her rendition of "Summertime." I read the start of my recently-published short story. The actor who delivered some monologues last time read original poetry and discussed her play-in-progress. The host performed a short, pandemic-related piece with two others reading parts. One reader repeated an urban legend as fact, but I acknowledge it inspired a very moving poem. I reserved comment. This fair assembly took place in the old neighbourhood where I was living when I met my wife. I wanted to stay in that area, but she had just bought a house across town. My early-nineties stomping ground was already becoming trendy when I lived there. That trend has only increased. In 2013, it swept a Best Neighbourhoods in Canada contest.
Yeah, well, I lived there before it was cool.
And while living there, I dated one of those three women I mentioned at the start. I've talked with all three of them, at a safe distance, in the last two weeks. The second is a friend who we used to call, half-seriously, my youthful sidekick. The third, in her nineties, is an old friend of my wife's-- the age-gap there greater than with my generation-crossing friend. However, I have some work to finish, panel stuff to do at Gen Con online, and our anniversary on Sunday, so that account awaits next week.