So much of who and what we were and aspired to be, whether as anarchists or plain-old people, seems to have faded away during the pandemic. Or maybe worn to the bone is a better way to phrase it. We’re still here, and yet somehow we’re not capable of doing what seemed to come so easily before this current plague.
Like being a friendly anarchist—something that has so long been an integral, embodied part of my anarchism and me (even before I was an anarchist). Being friendly, especially on first meeting someone or welcoming them into a space, has always been, for me, like riding a bike: you never forget. But I have.
It hit me as spring emerged and suddenly I began crossing paths with more people—strangers—on my #FuckCOVID19 walks. The warmth, even if in fits and starts, brought them outside. It wasn’t just me, ducks, geese, squirrels, muskrats, groundhogs, and the like anymore. There were humans, avoiding my eyes (unlike the abovementioned creatures), and me avoiding theirs. This isn’t me, I thought? Or is this now who I’ve disintegrated into (as a friend put it) because of the pandemic and trauma? I decided to try building up my “friendly” muscles again.
Yesterday, walking fast with my head down, swinging a see-through bag of clementines on my way to meet four friends in a park, I saw two people out of the corner of my eye sitting on a bench a bit ahead of me. As I passed them, I looked over, made eye contact, nodded, and then said, simply, “hello.” “Those look good! Can I have one those oranges?” relied one of them, with a big grin on their face.
I hesitated for the slightest of moments, so unused to this kind of basic human interaction. We are, after all, social animals who survive via cooperation. Then I grinned back, ripped open the mesh, and gave them oranges—which clearly they’d not expected me to do. Then they wanted to talk. And joke. And share words with me—as bright and round and refreshing and delicious as a clementine.
I was a bit late to the circle of my anarchist friends, and two oranges shy of my contribution to our collective snacks. But a tiny bit of myself had filled back in.
(photo: circle A seen in so-called Ypsi)