By Abe Villarreal

Every day, during my fifty-minute drive to work and my fifty-minute drive back home, I see the movement, the rumblings of what looks like a society stretching its arms and wanting to get back up again.

People are walking dogs. The same lady in the reflective yellow vest is running around the same corner each day. As the sun rises so does steam off the rooftops of small businesses who are warming up neighborhoods with their baked goods and coffee.

School parking lots look a little fuller. Lanyards with name tags bumping up and down on chests are seen as administrators and counselors file their way onto campuses to do their work no matter where students are learning.

On early evenings, kids can be seen running barefoot at city parks. Teens walking in groups, mostly looking down on their phones, but still walking, outside, together.

The morning street sweepers are slowly and noisily doing their cleaning of streets that are starting to get dirty again. Restaurants are looking for workers. The city visitor center has a We're Open sign even if it's just for a few hours a day, and a few days a week.

Bulletin boards are getting filled up with flyers announcing events and happenings. Authors are signing books at small coffee shops. Only a few can come in at a time, but they can come in. Mainstreet movie theaters are not just selling popcorn to passersby, some of them are showing movies. They might be older movies and the seating is spaced out, but going to the movies is a thing again.

When I go grocery shopping, people can be seen talking to each other a little longer, and a little closer. Some fist bumps are turning into handshakes. Some handshakes into hugs.

People of all ages are dusting themselves off, shaking the blues away. Still, with a lot of eagerness by many to move forward, we have one foot outside and one foot inside. Precaution, even now, seems necessary.

We react differently to adversity. Whether it be a pandemic or an uncomfortable phone call. It's O.K. that some will want to stay inside a little longer while others welcome the distractions of life. Personally, I enjoy the sunshine and the smiling faces I see around me. They make me feel better.

One thing we didn't lose as a society is our compassion and love for one another. We continued to demonstrate it in different ways, even if we had to learn new ways to do it. Now, that life seems to be giving us permission to be our old, familiar selves, we want to do old, familiar things.

Those are the kinds of things I like to do because I know what works for me and what doesn't. I like to shake people's hands when I first meet them and give them a hug once I know them. I like to go to a park and see people lying out on the grass with their dogs, feet in the air, and face to the heavens.

I like to go to the movies, not just to watch the latest motion picture, but also to hear everyone else in the room laughing or screaming in fright.

I like to go to restaurants where I have to wait a little while to be given a seat. I know other people like that, too.

It's O.K. that some of us are taking it slow and others of us are ready to move on. Part of what makes us appreciate each other is how we take on life challenges, good ones and hard ones. It might take us a little longer than we wanted, but the important thing is that we are moving forward.

Abe Villarreal writes about the traditions, people, and culture of America. He can be reached at abevillarreal@hotmail.com.

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