It’s been over a year and a half since I last saw most of the people I work with in person, which is kind of a strange thing because there’s a lot of longevity where I work—I’ve been in the same building, pretty much the same department, for twenty-eight years, and there are people who are still around who were there when I started and up until March of 2020 I was used to seeing most of them pretty regularly in person. And there have also been some new people who were hired just a few months ago, and I’ve gotten used to seeing them pretty regularly in Zoom meetings.
Then my boss had this great idea to have a departmental picnic outdoors at Centennial Park so we could actually all get together and see each other in person again or for the first time, and it was sort of like being back at work. Centennial Park isn’t too far from the building where, in normal times, we’d all go to work, and I’ve spent a lot of work lunches strolling around Lake Watauga in the park. Not to mention all the times from my childhood when I went to Centennial Park. I remember when the statue of Athena that’s now in the Parthenon was installed, and I remember before that when the Parthenon was empty and open for free. Heck, I remember when the lake, next to the Parthenon, had paddle boats you could rent if you wanted to chase the ducks around, which is about all you could do. They call it a lake but it’s really a glorified pond, and it’s also where I took fellow blogger Ann Koplow on her visit to Nashville.
As I drove to the park to meet my coworkers for lunch I also thought about how much not like work it was. For one thing I was driving there, not taking the bus, and while I did do that occasionally the walk to the spot in the park would be much, much shorter since I could park right next to the Parthenon, and while I could park right next to the building where my office is my car would probably get several tickets, or I’d have to keep running downstairs every twenty minutes to feed the parking meter.
It was a nice picnic lunch and we all had a nice time, but then I had to leave because I had an afternoon meeting, and I actually got lost trying to find my way out of Centennial Park because, well, I’m not used to driving there. I’m used to walking to and around Centennial Park so I’d never noticed before how many of the park’s roads dead-end into parking lots, although getting lost on my way to a meeting is exactly like a regular day at work for me.