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Getting back to 4D living

As humans, we crave interaction. As an introvert, I also cherish solitude and the ability to withdraw on my own to reflect. I have taken well to Zoom. It allows me to connect on my terms. There is this distance that allows me to talk to people without being overwhelmed by all kinds of stimuli. What I didn’t bargain for this weekend was how much I missed the 4D world.

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On Saturday, I went with my son and daughter to the Canada/New Zealand women’s soccer match with over 16,000 in the stands – a relatively small venue by American and European standards. No soccer match would be complete without the trek to Stella Luna, a bougie café with artisanal gelato. We debated, should we go before the match or afterward. As we had time to spare, we chose to go early. 

No soccer match would be complete without the trek to Stella Luna, a bougie café with artisanal gelato.

So, here’s the secret. You ask for three flavours: one rich chocolate, one creamy and one wacked out, out-there flavour such as electric kiwi or apple jack pecan.  I like to have at least one fruit and one alcoholic scoop. The gelato is made fresh each day and molded into these elaborate whirls with decorations of nuts, fruits, or chocolate. Each tiny pan of gelato is an artwork. Feeling almost angelic, I chose a small container. My son and daughter went for the large. Oh my! Feeling the cold creamy gelato on my tongue and savouring the taste of the flavours one at a time, this was pure contentment.

Enjoying our gelato, we slowly made our way to Lansdowne. Of course, we had to be screened for vaccination status before entering and wore our masks throughout the full two-hour match, unless eating. It was a 4-D bonanza. Everywhere I looked there were people: people standing, people waving, people inching their way along the long aisles of seats with their drinks and their stadium food. The smell of the pizza, popcorn and hotdogs was intoxicating. It was a cold day, only about 6 degrees Celsius, but the stands seemed warm enough with the mass of humanity around me. There was a type of electricity in the air that made me feel as one with the crowd. It was like every sound was magnified. There were the groans when our team missed a pass, the cheers when the goalie caught the ball, and, of course, the victory hoots and howls when we got a goal. It was like we rose as one with each small victory. Oh, and don’t let me leave out the taste of the gooey nachos and the salty popcorn. Diet? What diet? You just can’t go to a stadium and not enjoy the stadium’s culinary delights despite your arteries’ protests.

I even talked to a stranger, something you can’t do in the scheduled Zoom appointments.  You can’t replace the obligatory dance before a conversation can take place. You know, the sidelong glance to see if the person next to you might be open to a comment. It’s the tightening of your stomach as you get up the courage to actually say something out loud to your neighbour. It’s also the inner sigh when your neighbour gives a slight smile and murmurs something back. Our next stranger encounter was with the lady in the seat in front of us. She carefully placed her fur-lined hood over the back of her seat, just brushing my son’s mustard-laden pretzel. Horrified, my son hastily apologized, trying to mop up the small dollop of mustard on the edge of her hood. She merely smiled and said that it wasn’t really a big deal. It took my son very little time to get over his mortification. As soon as the game started, he was already up on his feet, enthusiastically cheering for our team.

Needless to say, I hadn’t been out that much over the past few months. My few outings usually involved quick grocery runs or small intimate gatherings. I felt a perverse pleasure in lining up and shuffling my way out of Lansdowne Park, following the long cordon of people walking down Bank Street. After several blocks, my son stopped by a pizza vending machine tucked in between a restaurant with a gated outside seating area and a bus stop with a rain shelter. 

With a crow of delight, he said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to try this!” 

I responded, “What?  I’m still full, but ok. It would be fun to try, but we need a picture.”

Drum roll, please! The pizza took only six minutes and came out of the slot in a box. Squeezing all three of us onto an iron bench next to the bus shelter, my daughter and I watched as my son gingerly sliced through the piping hot pizza. Surprisingly, we found that the crust was done to perfection. I did take a couple of bites myself, enjoying the meaty flavour of the peperoni and the warm springy mozzarella. The walk to the bus home was uneventful but satisfying. It had been a wonderful, unaccustomed 4D day.

Sunday was quieter but no less profound. I looked forward to another beautiful sunny 4D day. Seeing that my concord grapes were plump and purple, I grabbed a bowl and set out to gather some grapes for freezing. There were so many ripe clusters, and their smell was intoxicating. On impulse, I called my friend to see if he was interested in making jam. We promised to make the hour-long drive to deliver them personally. Working together in companiable silence, my husband and I picked a big box of grapes and stowed it carefully into the trunk of our car.

We had agreed to meet my friend half-way at the Walmart parking lot. Who knew that the Walmart in a small town could be that busy! Circling around the packed parking lot, I saw him.  Interestingly, I had been talking with my friend for a couple of years via phone or Zoom, yet I knew him by the way that he stood. He had such a controlled stillness about him. My goodness I enjoyed talking with him face-to-face. I noticed how the three of us came alive and literally leaned into the conversation. 

When my friend’s nephew returned to the car, he shyly showed his uncle what he had purchased, anxiously hoping that they were the right things for making jam. When he realized that we were talking with his uncle, there was a subtle shift in his manner. 

He dipped his head to peer into our faces and remarked, “I know most of my uncle’s friends, but I don’t think we have met before.”

With a warm smile, I quietly said, “I am a new friend, I guess.”

That did the trick. I passed the test, and we began to share little tidbits. What impressed me was his enthusiasm and delight at meeting someone new in his uncle’s circle. He had an open and honest way about him that was very charming. Equally interesting was his uncle’s reaction. He subtly shifted the conversation by turning to talk with my husband, letting his nephew into the circle and enabling him to talk with me. Eventually it was time to go. I had a sense that we all would have liked to sit down somewhere and have a really good chat.

It was a rich experience that involved each one of my senses and the integration of a wide range of positive emotions. I felt truly alive – Oh, the things that I had missed over the course of the recent Pandemic. 

On the way home, I felt a real sense of peace. It had truly been a beautiful 4D weekend. It was a rich experience that involved each one of my senses and the integration of a wide range of positive emotions. I felt truly alive – Oh, the things that I had missed over the course of the recent Pandemic. Of course, things are not yet back to normal, but I can look forward to other equally 4D experiences. It will help me to hone my sensing, perceiving, and feeling skills and open myself up to other experiences.

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