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Michael Buckius


Instead of asking how are you I think we should be asking Howie, are you…. This way we can be Howie, because let’s face it, it can be a drag to be you and I right now. Howie, are you going to finish that sandwich? Howie are you crying again? Howie, are you having a hard time being creative? Howie are you even an artist? Howie, are you unable to find motivation to do simple things? Howie are you watching films you enjoyed as a child? Howie, are you able to get through to unemployment to straighten out your claim? Howie are you concerned that they are lifting stay at home restrictions too early on your state? Howie are you able to get a reliable test? Howie are you sick? Ok, make another sandwich. Let’s just be Howie.


It is the dawn of life. Picture Howie emerging from the primordial soup. Actually it’s just you getting out of bed, but let’s pretend it’s Howie. When you imagine you’re Howie it allows you to be present. Quite possibly the greatest gift right now is the ability to be present. Howie is going to have a great day.


So maybe we just think about this name, Howie, and this name replaces the how are yous. You don’t think about how you feel, just about Howie. How is Howie? Are you concerned for him? Howie, are you...ok? What is Howie up to? Maybe putting the finishing touches on his latest essay? Anything is better than thinking about how you are, what your future looks like, what your finances look like, what your hair is doing. How’s Howies hair? It’s perfect, it’s exactly how you want it to look. You can give anything to Howie that you want for yourself. Howie, your future looks great. This fall you’re finally starting that teaching job you’ve been working so hard for. Howie you’re rich in so many ways. Howie have as many kettle chips as you want. Howie, physically, you’re an Adonis.


But, in reality, there is no Howie. There is just you and I. I can’t speak for you, but I certainly have my ups and downs. I’m scared. I cry often. I laugh often too. I set a new personal record for the amount of times I called unemployment the other day. Some days I feel hopeless and disconnected from myself and others. But you’re reading this right now and we are connected in that way. That is what’s great about humans, we figure out ways to stay connected. Yes, I miss you too. When this is all over we can forget about Howie and we can ask each other how are you? In person. How are you? I can’t wait to hear what you say. I can’t wait to see you out there, at one of the places we used to meet. I can’t wait to give you a hug, take a step back and say “It’s so good to see you.”

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020