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I am obsessed with crow’s feet. No, not the literal feet of crows. But the crow’s feet that expand out from the ends of our eyes every time we make a facial expression. Those charming crinkles that are just about the only sign of facial expression we can see in each other these days.

It’s been almost one year – ONE YEAR! – since we counted six-feet-apart, covered our faces, and started to study each other’s half-expressions. It’s been a long learning, figuring out how to convey warmth, gratitude, love, affection through a mask.

I still mouth “thank you” when a car stops and allows me to cross the street. My lips can’t be seen, but I’m saying it anyway. I still smile at people and dogs (ok, mostly at dogs) and wonder if they can see me. I don’t want to let go of any opportunity for warmth and connection and community – even if we’re only getting a half-face – and probably only half the time.

I am not sure we are as kind as we used to be.

Anyway, half-faced emotions mean my guesses are half-right.

I think I now recognize the difference between grimace-in-physical-pain crow’s feet vs. wrinkled-emotional-possible-pre-tears-certain-sadness crow’s feet vs. joy-laughter-yes-I-am-alive-and-I-see-you crow’s feet. It’s taken a year.

I recently had someone flirt with me using only eyebrows. I know the difference between one lift of the brows (“are those pyjamas pants you’re wearing?!”) vs two lifts of the brows (“well helloooo there!”). There’s also the lifting of just one brow, but not everyone can do that so I don’t have a glossary for that just yet. It’s like curling your tongue – maybe it’s genetic.

I wonder when I’ll be able to see tongues, lips, mouths, teeth again. We all have food in our teeth and coffee on our breath and no one minds, because no one knows.

Putting our hand on our heart is one way to convey emotion. It’s a throwback to my days “in the field” when I wasn’t sure if I should shake hands or smile or what to do by way of greeting. Hand-to-heart is a safe – and sincere – bet.

But still – I love your crow’s feet. To think that we used to talk about not wanting them, removing them, coating them with lotions and potions to make them less visible!

Please keep them. For now. It’s practically all we’ve got.

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