Lawrence, I miss you.
I miss your bustling sidewalks and seeing friends I know every block or two. Remember when every 20-something's bright and shiny maskless face wasn't cause for alarm? Now I see a person I might know, but... wait.... is it really them? Should I even bother saying hello? We can't even get close enough to talk.
Restaurants, I miss you.
I miss Ladybird cheeseburgers and their staff and Meg. I've sat up late at night watching countless hours of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives but it's not the same. Guy Fieri may be the mayor of Flavortown but does he know my kid's favorite meal? Does he say, "Yay! Alice is here!," whenever she turns on his show? He doesn't. He's reportedly very nice but he's not our Meg. He's someone else's Guy.
Theatre performances, I miss you.
I watched Hamilton on Disney Plus but it was not the same. (Although, it was realllll good.) It hasn't even been a year since we saw Dear Evan Hansen at The Music Hall in Kansas City and I cried unabashedly from about 30 minutes on. It feels like longer than a year. It feels like forever. We were supposed to see The Shining opera this summer. The. Shining. Opera. I hate opera! But, I wasn't going to miss this. Well, we are missing it. It was canceled. Here's Johnny? No, actually, Johnny isn't here. Johnny's at home and in lock down and we all know how that turned out the first time.
Movie Theaters, I miss you.
I have watched many movies at home but it is not the same. I miss big events and seeing films in the small theater at Liberty Hall. You have been such a constant in my life, Liberty Hall. My best friend and I started seeing two-for-one movies on Tuesdays in the '90s. I remember Basquiat and Before Sunrise and being able to order beer at concessions and thinking, "No one back in Olathe is ever going to believe this." I also miss two-for-one Tuesdays but the $2.00 off coupon on your ticket stub is pretty nice. I know you are open, but I am not ready.
House Parties, I miss you.
I have zoomed with friends in lieu of taking food over to their houses for a potluck and it is not the same. I don't miss raging kegger house parties. I miss the kind of parties where we sit around a table for hours and my friend Kitty says something inappropriate and it becomes an inside joke for two decades. I miss parties where friendships deepen with every guffaw and where you can share a dip. Shared dip is done. Sorry, dip.
Red Lipstick, I miss you.
I have worn every color of mask across my mouth and it is not the same. I never wanted to be the kind of person whose mask made a statement other than, "I'm trying not to infect you with my invisible germs," but I have found myself using them as a replacement for makeup. It doesn't take me as long to get ready in the morning but I'd still rather wear Clinique than cotton.
Teen Zone Teens, I miss you.
I have yelled at other teens around town to walk and not horseplay but it is not the same. You bring such a vibrancy to our library and now there's an eerie quiet on Wednesday afternoons where squeaking sneakers used to be. When the Teen Zone opens back up and you are running through the library, I will still tell you to walk but I will also be grateful that you are here. You need to walk, though.
Traveling, I miss you.
For the last five months I have distracted myself with books and images of England and France waiting for the time I can return. I've gone highbrow and read Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, and I've gone arguably lower brow with Zac Efron and his friend Darin and their Netflix show, Down to Earth. Zac wore white jeans on his first day of exploring Iceland and every time someone tells him carbohydrates are good for him if prepared a certain way, he is stunned. Yes, I've traveled all over the world with Zac but, no, it is not the same. I would never go to Paris in real life with someone who doesn't eat carbs.
Lawrence, I miss you but I see you coming back.
Every day I'm greeted by patrons who are delighted to be able to (however briefly) browse the stacks and it is wonderful to see you in here again. We are behind plexi, we are wearing masks. We are keeping our distance, we are quieter than we've ever been — but we have missed you, Lawrence, and we are happy to be with you even if things are not quite the same.
-Sarah Mathews is an Accounts Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.