Emma June Grosskopf column

Do you remember last June, when my columns were all about how birds were in my closet and how wearing face masks was exacerbating my summer acne?

A year later, I’m thankfully writing about how things seem to be tinged with normalcy. I’m seeing smiles on faces (instead of people squinting their eyes to faux-smile. We’ve all done it. Don’t lie). People are able to gather in groups. People are hugging and shaking hands.

And me? I’m back to being a groupie.

You know, groupies? The gals who kind of tag along with musicians and offer pretty much only the charm of their presence and the sparkle of their wit?

I tend to surround myself with the artsy types, although I would not consider myself to be said artsy type. I don’t have any real artistic talent, but I DO have the ability to support those who do. Everyone needs support, right?

Last weekend, I spent some time in Canaan Valley with my friends Betsy and Jes. While we were there, we went to an actual live music performance at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas. Yep, you read that right.

An actual, indoor, live music performance. There was a real band. There was a solid amount of beer consumed. There were signs saying that if you’ve been vaccinated, you don’t need to wear a mask. So, my mask sat beside me as I basked in the normalcy and the general ambience of being around people and ACTUALLY being able to see their faces.

I know I’ve written in the past about the non-Covid-related benefits of wearing masks (fashion, being able to mouth expletives without anyone knowing, etc.), but I do have to say that I have missed seeing people’s faces. Is that weird, missing seeing other people’s mouths?

Anyway, my friends and I even spoke with the band during their break and after the show: unmasked conversation with smiles, laughter and the social lubricant of some IPA I can’t remember the name of flowing through my veins.

My talented friends and their bodyguard (me) accompanied the group to the upper porch of the Purple Fiddle for a post-performance jam, adding more laughter, music and, you guessed it, normalcy, to my weekend.

No, I did not jam. I had another beer and admired all the musical talent on the porch that evening. I was deep in conversation with Cory, a member of the band, when the owner of the restaurant asked him who we were.

“Do you know these girls?” He asked Cory, jerking his head toward my compatriots and I, who were singing and fiddling.

And schmoozing member of the band (me).

“I’m trying to,” Cory responded, laughing. The owner then asked if we were groupies.

I pointed out that out of my musically gifted friends, I was the only real groupie here (read above: my charming presence and sparkling wit), but it was such a refreshing conversation. There was no, “Why aren’t they wearing masks?” or “Make sure you social distance.”

There was only normalcy.

And, as I went through and compiled the Review’s festival calendar for the rest of the year, I was reminded again of how much things have changed since last summer. We actually are going to be HAVING festivals, for one. Seeing the events for the upcoming months stack up is exciting for me. We have the opportunity to get out and do stuff with other people.

That’s a beautiful thing. Performances, festivals, barbecues, all of it, it all smacks of a return to normalcy, and no, I don’t want to jinx it.

And yes, I know we’re not out of the Covid woods yet. It’s a struggle daily for some, and while many folks are getting vaccinated, it’s not an issue that’s going to just disappear overnight.

But still. Being called a groupie is just one more step toward getting back to normal, and I’m going to enjoy it.

And for you guys? Check out the festival guide, and start marking those calendars.

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