I’ll be honest, I don’t miss hugs.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have dear friends and some of whom I – at one time, before there was a pandemic – might hug as part of the greeting or parting ritual, but that’s over. They’re still dear friends, but the touchy thing is gone. Such are the times we are in.

If you asked me at the time I’d of said: “Oh yeah, I’m all about the hugs.” But it’s now like an artifact of a bygone era and, just being honest here, I don’t miss it. Handshakes, I kinda’ miss handshakes, that formal and traditional greeting, but I’m learning to live without them. But hugs? Yeah, I’m okay without them.

Little doubt this is a unique time to be on Earth. The pandemic has touched all of our lives in various ways. Various reports are showing incidents of depression are on the rise, and from that the harm a further tragedy as people do to themselves while depressed is also on the rise. The lack of social contact, apparently, is having an impact.

Then we started hearing reports of with schools shutdown last spring there was less oversight for abuse and some families were having to suffer through that after being locked down with a harmful person. Ugh.

In an effort to find some good news in this: In both cases bringing attention to these issues did a lot to increase the public focus and combat these conditions.

Meanwhile a national election is going on. This provides endless fodder for the newsroom email inbox as the latest from (some political party) about (some political candidate) makes a breathless report about the latest finding, poll, or poll about a finding.

It’s all rather tiring, frankly.

And under the heading of “confession” here comes one: I didn’t watch any of the debates; I didn’t watch the town hall events.

I know, I know, newsboy should be all over those things, but nah.

Funny story: One of my first “atta’ boy” moments was when I reported on a political debate back in ... well, I seem to recall Ross Perot being one of the talkers that night so it was a while ago. I turned in the story in to the college paper and the advisor the next day complimented me. It was maybe my second semester on the paper’s staff and the compliment was a big moment for me.

The story was a fairly typical recount, with someone declared a winner (again, I don’t recall who) and a discussion of the various points made. Key point: You could read it, and in a few minutes hear a summary of a debate.

Since then I don’t report on these debates and the like, as it’s easier the next morning to just read however many news reports and hear what took place. That way I don’t have to sit through the silly thing. But why not? After all, my beat is a couple counties up around Greers Ferry Lake and literally nobody wants to hear/read my reporting on what a national political candidate said into a microphone while the bright lights shined about them.

When given a chance, in further fairness, I look forward to interviews with these candidates about local issues and hoped for outcomes, but, again, we’re out here off the lake. They care about us (and I really believe that), but again, out here by the lake and they have bigger fish to fry. I’m not offended, nor do I understand the nuance of defense budget policy.

So I read what other’s report the morning after, sip my coffee and wonder how leaf pick-up is going, that sort of thing. Need to make some calls.

While I’m in town I might run into you. We’ll stop and socially distance chat, talk about the leaves in the ditches or the way people are driving by, or both, or some other things. That conversation and whatever others are packed into my internal bag and becomes part of the story of the area.

It gets plugged into a conversation at some government meeting or another, maybe a third or forth conversation with someone else on another street and it all becomes part of the story.

But no hugs.

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