It feels so good to fell normal again

A day like Monday was sorely needed. It was good to see old friends again, it was good to hear music, and it felt really good to hear laughter again.
Monday was the Make Music festival, which is held citywide each year on the Summer Solstice, but brought to our community for the first time by Raquel Olivares, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District.
Forest Parkway was closed off for a few hours, chairs were placed in the street, and three different acts filled the streets of Woodhaven with wonderful music for three hours.
Across the street, a handful of local artists dubbed The Woodhaven Art Circle gave an exhibition of paintings, collages and quilts, a beautiful sight to see on such a beautiful sunny day.
For the first 30 minutes or so, the street was empty and I overheard someone wondering if people were still too nervous to come out. And I had to wonder myself. It’s been a long 15 months and everyone may have lost the habit of public gatherings.
But slowly, over time, people began to arrive. One by one, we started seeing more and more old friends and familiar faces.
Faces, for the most part, not masks. It was nice to see some smiling faces.
Initial greetings with people you haven’t seen in a while were a bit awkward. Do we fist bump? Do we bump elbows? There were still a few of those.
But I’m happy to report that there were lots of handshakes and hugs. And it felt so good.
At one point, I found myself in a small group of friends and we were making silly jokes and having a laugh. And it felt so good.
There was even some gossiping and intrigue and catching up on all the local controversies.
And it felt so, so good.
It felt good to hear live music and see people dancing in the middle of Forest Parkway. It felt good to see passersby stop and stare and wonder what was happening, and then joining the party.
I saw one old friend that I hadn’t seen much over the past 15 months, and after giving each other a warm greeting we sat down and caught up with each other’s lives. It turned out that all was good with both of us. We are the lucky ones.
For just below the surface was a layer of sadness for those who could not be there with us; those we lost to COVID or other reasons. We all went into the COVID storm together, but not everyone came out.
And it was wonderful to see all the lovely work by our talented artists. During the day, a few more artists came forward and will be joining us in the very near future. We’ll introduce you to them.
And there was lots of excitement about this Saturday’s Art Exhibit of Woodhaven Art Circle member Mahfuza Shammy Rahman (MSR).
MSR’s work will be on exhibit at Geordie’s Joint on the corner of 80th Street and Jamaica Avenue starting Saturday, June 26, at 3 p.m. There will be a brief ceremony at 4 p.m., and if you miss the opening, MSR’s work will be on display at Geordie’s Joint through July 3.
It feels good to be busy again, it feels good to have events to look forward to, and it feels so good to see so many happy faces on the streets of Woodhaven again. It’s been a long, long time, and a day like Monday was badly needed.
It was good to feel normal again. At last.

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