I love playing guitar, but pre-pandemic, I would never have considered doing it outdoors. The acoustics are weird, there's no electricity, and I was worried about irritating fellow park-goers. But then the virus hit, and the sweaty, cramped basement where I used to practice with my friends suddenly felt like a COVID petri dish. Taking the tunes outside felt like the only option.

On a sunny day sometime in summer 2020, my friends and I hauled a stripped-down drum kit, an acoustic guitar and a battery-powered keyboard to a nearby park to play music together for the first time since the pandemic started. It didn't sound great. The drums crashed and echoed across the field, and the tiny electric piano was barely audible. Still, it felt liberating. I couldn't help but wonder why we hadn't done this before. As we launched into a sketchy cover of Chicago's "Saturday in the Park," a neighbor I'd never met came up to us, and we chatted for what felt like hours.

Other parts of my life were also forced outdoors. In the fall of 2020, I met weekly with college classmates to study together in chilly grass fields. When cases spiked in January, I sat in a socially distanced circle in a friend's backyard for the rainiest, coldest New Year's Eve party of my life.

Times have changed. Gathering in a poorly ventilated basement is no longer a public health faux pas. But still, a part of me misses the days when going outside was the only real way to socialize in groups. Trying to adapt an indoor activity to the outside is often inconvenient and challenging, but it offers a new perspective, and a fresh look at what it means to be together.

Even if we don't have to anymore, I hope we'll remember how fun it is to take the party outside.

Japanese Bon Odori Dance Practices @ Spokane Buddhist Temple

Sundays, 1-3 p.m. Continues through July 10
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About The Author

Nate Sanford

Nate Sanford is a staff writer for the Inlander covering a variety of news topics. He joined the paper in 2022 after graduating from Western Washington University. 509.325.0634 ext. 282