Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Just A Lil' Gut Punch Of Happy

After we finished the rental last week I dug out my real camera and a wide-angle lens to take photos for the listing. I was rushing that day to keep the afternoon light, so of course I was frustrated when I stared down at my trusty DSLR, so beat up from hundreds of hours of shooting at conventions, Dapper Days, fan meets, and more, and realized I didn't remember how the lousy thing worked anymore.

"Which button is the white balance?" I demanded, poking at various options. "How do I get to the menu, again?"

John was with me in the open garage, putting tools away. 

"Oh geez," he said looking up with a laugh, "You haven't had that thing out in years, have you?"

I had to stop. "Wow, I guess not? Huh. That's wild to think about."

Eventually muscle memory took over and I got the settings... set... and backed up a ways to take the first photo of the garage. Definitely not a beauty shot, but functional. I raised the camera to my eye, half-pressed the shutter to lock the focus, and, "snickt!" took the photo.

I've heard that little whir and click thousands and thousands and thousands of times, but never once thought anything of it. It's just the sound of a camera, right?

But not this time.

This time, in that empty, muggy garage, I was suddenly transported to the floor of the Marriott lobby during Dragon Con, surrounded by crushing crowds and the deafening sound of merriment and music. I was on the concrete expanse of the MegaCon vendor floor, and in front of the castle at the Magic Kingdom, and a dozen other places all at once, grinning, yelling out to someone how amazing they look, lining up the right angle and lighting as fast as I can, all so I can go chase the NEXT person. I felt a sense of elation and excitement crash over me, like being suddenly hug-tackled right in the gut.

"Oh," I said, breathing out. I looked over at John. "That's... that's such a happy sound, isn't it?"

John looked at me quizzically just as the strangest, silliest, most surprising thing happened: I burst into tears and laughter at the same time.

"AAAAA, this is so dumb!," I yelled, wiping back my tears through a fresh peal of laughter, "this is so dumb." But it wasn't dumb, it was wonderful.

"Stop," said a bewildered John from across the way, drill in hand, "you're going to make me cry, too!" And then he did, and we stood in that empty garage, losing light, laughing and hugging and crying over a million happy memories, a beat-up old camera, and the sweet sound of a single shutter click.


Covid took so much away, y'all. So much. But the lack and the long darkness has also given me something: a reminder to cherish the small things - even as small as a camera click.

This week is busy for me and John; we're going more places and seeing more people in a week than we did in 6 months last year.  I'm excited, and maybe a little overwhelmed? But it's good. It's good.

Your world may not be opening up as quickly as mine - or you could be way ahead of me, already out there - but wherever you are in this transition back to "normal," I just want to remind you to savor the firsts. The first sit-down restaurant. The first group outing. The first hugs. The first movie and concert and convention. Take the extra moment. Go ahead, lose the light. Savor the firsts.



And now, if you have any, I want to hear about the Firsts that caught you off guard. The ones you never thought about before, the boring, everyday things you never expected to miss, not until you got to see or hear or go experience them again for the first time in a long time. Let's share some happy mundane things, so the folks behind us on the way can see there's hope and light and laughter ahead.



*****

P.S. Congratulations to my 3 Squeegineer winners for May: Laura S., Laura K. & Tracey R.! Please check your inboxes for a message from John, gang, so you can choose your prizes.

51 comments:

  1. I knew I was gonna be beyond happy to see my best friend Ian for the first time in 14+ months, but yowzah! As soon as he knocked on the door, I whipped it open and practically jumped on him like a damn spider monkey. And I started weeping, just bawling, shuddering sobs of relief and love and oh my God it's over and you're really here. I'm crying right now typing this. But! It wasn't a bad cry or an unhappy thing, quite the opposite! It was what I call that most rare and lovely form of panic attack, the Happy Attack; there's no fear, just overwhelming joy. It makes me shake and and do my breathing afterwards, too. He finally got inside and we smoked a fatty boombalatty, had supper, and watched/made fun of an old Godzilla movie... good goddamn times are back!

    And tomorrow, I'm hooking up with him and my other best friend Michael (Ian was my co-officiant and Michael was Best Man at my Trek wedding) at Michael's house to party and have a sleepover; I haven't seen him in 14+ months, either. I haven't been out of this house for more than an hour or two or had food made by someone else (except Taco Bell) since last March, this is gonna be weird!

    BREATHE THROUGH THE HAPPY, Y'ALL!

    Storm the Klingon

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  2. I'm not a hugging person usually, but after we all got vaccinated and I could hug my parents again it was amazing and I still don't feel I've quite caught up.
    I didn't hug them before the vaccine because at work I can see tens of people a day and didn't want to take any risks.
    I had my husband and kids to hug but not hugging my parents was hard, and I really appreciate being able to hug people again.

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  3. My 10 year old is a hockey player, through and through, all year long. We were off the rink for a few months at the beginning of the shutdown, but they eventually figured out how to bring it back safely. Our state has now fully opened back up and restrictions have been removed. After his game this past weekend, the kids were able to do an actual handshake line instead of just tapping their sticks at each other like they had been doing. All the parents in the stands went nuts seeing it, and I started sobbing with joy. Seeing my kids get back to normal kid things is by far the most emotional thing for me.

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  4. Unrelated to covid, but when my daughters went to Europe together about 10 years ago I suggested they both choose an individual perfume they had never worn before and wear it while they travel. The idea being that scent would link to the experience, and after they had come home, even years later, whenever they smelled that scent it would transport them back to Europe and their time together.

    Our senses can do just that, prick memories and *emotions* out of our brains and into our present realities. If we want to purposely imprint an experience into our subconscious a great way is through our touch, hearing, scent, vision, and or taste. Sometimes it just happens, which is amazing, and other times we can use it like a tool. Our youngest daughter has since passed, and you can bet that we all remember her whenever we hear an oboe played well, feel and or see kittens...and when her sister begins to feel sad and lonely for her best friend, she can open a bottle of perfume and it takes her back to their time together in Europe.

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    1. Oh my goodness, beautiful & heartbreaking, hugs to you.

      And you're right, smell is such an overlooked memory-maker. I remember doing the same for my high-school prom: I went to the drugstore and bought a shiny new bottle of Exclamation (remember that??) so the new smell would always remind me of prom - which turned out to be infinitely unmemorable, heh, but hey, I tried!

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  5. I'm still more comfortable with online church than in-person (they just started in-person after Easter), but my Bible study group started meeting in person a few weeks ago. We've all been vaccinated, it's a small group, and we've been doing lessons on Zoom since last March. The first time we met in person, at the end of class we gathered for prayer and we all instinctively reached out our hands because that's how we'd close class when we met in person. To be in that circle, holding hands with other people, was my favorite first so far, because it felt normal.

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  6. A few weeks ago i went to an outdoor craft event (already a SQUEEEE experience).
    Folks were still generally wearing their masks walking around or talking to vendors.
    When a friend and i saw each other for the first time in 18 months we went in for a big hug and as i squoze her tight i realized that it was the FIRST, the first time i hugged someone outside my pod and the first time i hugged someone in public. With vaccines and masks it was possible and normal and okay.
    As an extroverted, high PDA, life-long hugger who lives alone, the lack of physical contact over the last 14 months has been excruciating and at times almost too much to bear. This tiny gesture, so natural and integral to my character felt like Christmas morning.
    We both held on a little longer than normal and the edge of my mask was a little damp from tears.

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    1. This exactly, so beautifully put.

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    2. I'm not... Ok, I'm crying. This is why I loved having so many singles in our bubble: hugs are ESSENTIAL and life-giving, and I think we all have a deficit in that area to make up going forward.

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  7. The first time I hugged friends after a year was brilliant and sparkly. The first restaurant meal, just a couple weeks ago, was odd. And waaaay back when my baby had his first real haircut I didn't realize until it was happening that I would cry and gather up a clipping of his hair to keep forever. Emotion and memory and feelings are weird and wonderful.

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  8. Stephane VolkmerJune 3, 2021 at 11:44 AM

    I hadn't been in the bookstore in nearly 9 months, which used to be my happy place and my destressing place as well. I walked in the other day to one and almost cried due to hearing the normal people sounds, such as a mom telling her little girl no or a guy and girl debating manga. I was so overwhelmed with feelings and it was just so needed.

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    1. I love this. For me it was the antique outlet: I made it to the first booth display and welled up. I knew I missed it, but it wasn't 'til that second I realized how MUCH. <3

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  9. My work team of four all started during lockdown, so we only met in person the first time a couple of weeks ago! At an outside table at a restaurant, it was freezing cold, and it was also my first time eating outside of my house in over a year, so it was all overwhelming and WONDERFUL!

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  10. Eating somewhere other than home. Last summer, and into the fall, we were able to eat outdoors occasionally, but it's been too cold here since the beginning of November. In March, we ate at a restaurant with an outdoor deck and I almost cried - after five months of only eating in my house, sitting at a table, having people bring me food and beverages, and not having to clean up afterwards. About a month later, seeing a friend and getting a big hug. Hugs still make me tear up every time.

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  11. We finally got to have dinner together with family over memorial day weekend. Our son was the only one not fully vaccinated (he gets his 2nd shot today), so for the first time in over a year we could sit together and play games and hug and hang out for hours. And then we had a potluck with our small group that has been meeting weekly for over 25 years and this last year was the longest we went without sharing a meal together. We'd met over zoom every week, but hadn't done potluck in so long, and it was so funny how we all went back to our usual spots at the table when we started back up again! And on Monday, we're heading back to Disneyland for our first visit in ages!

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  12. We live a block from our elementary school, and our district had no in-person teaching until March. I teared up the first time I drove by and saw teacher cars in the parking lot.

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    Replies
    1. Ohhh, that's a good one. Remember how empty the streets used to be?

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  13. My dad, in his 70s, got the vaccine, and then was able to come visit for the first time in a year and a half. (We usually see him every 4 months or so.)
    I should mention I'm an only child and pregnant.
    When I saw him, I *tried* to run (again, pregnant), and basically just tackle hugged him in the middle of a busy driveway and quietly sobbed, and both my husband and my dad had to gently remind me to maybe not just stand where cars would be.

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  14. I got stopped behind a school bus a few days ago and was so startled, I took a picture of the bus! First time I'd seen one in 15 months. And I was happy instead of annoyed at getting stopped, thinking of all the kids inside that bus seeing their friends again.

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  15. I'm an educator. I just had my first in-person professional learning event this week. I used to hate PL but the first one back has been such a relief from the series of doom zooms that replaced in person events the past year. I missed having people (even those I didn't know or like sometimes) in the same room.

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  16. After 15 months of layoff, my first day driving back under that Disney arch as a cast member.

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    1. Huzzah! Most of my Disney friends are back to work, but I know of at least one *still* on furlough. Someday all the shows will open up again!

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  17. Watching the casts of Dear Evan Hansen singing on GMA a few days ago. They looked so happy, and I could see their faces, and I just started sobbing. Music is coming back. Theater is coming back. Maybe in the fall I can be in the audience when my son has a concert.

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  18. Leisurely strolling the aisles of Target just to look at everything and my BFF Target whisper to me what I didn't know I needed.

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  19. Taught my first in person dance class last night to my intermediate and advanced bellydance students. These gals have all been with me for years and I was just shaking with excitement as everyone came into class. The energy and laughter in the room was amazing!!! We danced online in our homes for the past year plus and as much fun as it was to see peeks into each others lives, meet pets, spouses and kids, it just can't beat the joy of dancing together in person.

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  20. I wish I could share a few pictures. My firsts are finally seeing my best friends and their children after months apart and the first day back at my school and the tiny hand holding mine for hours.

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    Replies
    1. Awww, love that. If you're on FB you can share pics in the comments on my post!

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  21. My kids’ activities have been incredibly sparse this year. When my daughter’s winter guard team (they toss flags) was able to perform for the first time for parents after a full season of virtual competitions, I cried and cried. It felt so good to be in the same space as they did their thing. I could cheer for her while she was actually spinning and dancing. There was so much joy in that moment.

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  22. On my first fully-vaccinated weekend, I went back to Busch Gardens to ride coasters.

    The collective exclamation with my fellow riders down the first hill got me good. Laughed the whole ride, I was so happy.

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  23. It was Tuesday! Our mask mandate ended, & I was able to go to my grandson's school barefaced. I felt naked, so I wore one today :-D

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  24. I've been able to hang with my small regular circle for some months so that's been great. Today I ran into a former co-worker. I haven't seen her in person since I retired, so 3 years covid or not. I hugged her without reservation and we caught up with each other. I'm vaccinated so it was just unmasked, not socially distanced connection with an old friend. It was great!
    That was a wonderful moment you two had. It really is the little things.

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  25. I'm an essential front line employee with my county government, so I worked in the office full time for all of Covid. Out of our 62 person office, everyone other than supervisors, my team, and our appeals coordinator were sent home. I couldn't, and still can't, commiserate with everyone who was stuck at home. However, those of us left in the office bonded quickly. I now have life-long friends with quirky inside jokes and have solid work relationships with every supervisor in my office.

    The random thing that made me cry? The first day that everyone was back in the office our boss sent out an email praising my team's dedication and hard work in the office while everyone else was working from home. One person went on a shopping spree at the snack machines and gave my team chocolate. It was such a small gesture that completely did me in.

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    1. Sometimes it's the tiniest gesture of gratitude that shatters our strongest walls. I find I cry more over kindness than cruelty, because that's the thing I expect the least. <3

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  26. I'm defending my dissertation TODAY and then moving for the final stage of my training (the clinical stuff) in two weeks. So I should come back later today so I can say I passed my defense! #12MonthsToDoctor

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  27. First time in a store without a mask, I was in line waiting to check out, and there was a woman with a baby in the next line. I smiled and waved at the baby and she SMILED BACK AT ME! I’ve been smiling at babies for the past last 15 months, but they didn’t know…. I didn’t realize just how much I missed really smiling at babies in the grocery store.

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  28. As an RN, I worked thru all this. I saw people & never really felt that isolation that so many did. There were days I was SO jealous of those who got to stay out of the line of fire. But, during this time, our cat developed diabetes. We almost lost him. We spent so much time taking him to the vet, dropping him curbside, waiting for them to call us, then talking strategy. Yesterday, I took him in for a checkup & got to meet the wonderful people who helped save his life!! It was amazing. I think my smile probably showed beyond my mask!!!! So, even us folks who didn’t truly ever isolate are having some firsts. ❤️❤️❤️

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  29. Up here in the Toronto area we still aren't doing much opening, but restrictions have eased enough that the orchestra I often play in is having a (livestream no audience) concert for the first time in a few months, and it felt so good to go play some music in a room with other people again. The clouds are slowly starting to part.

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  30. We're still on full lockdown here in Ontario, Canada and very few people have been fully vaccinated. But there are still some happy moments of normalcy. Last weekend we accidentally placed an online pickup order with a store location an hour away and instead of cancelling the order, we had a mini road trip. I love a good road trip, and even just a tiny one felt amazing and freeing.

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  31. I got my nails done last weekend. It's been since February 2020, when I would normally go every 4 weeks. I didn't realize how much I missed my manicurist (who lost her father to COVID) or how much I missed my hands looking like, well, MY hands not some pale, nails broken, sad things at the ends of my arms.

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  32. As I look back on the past year for me, I'm surprised at how much my life... didn't change. My family already doesn't go anywhere regularly, the majority of interactions that I have are with friends online, and, well, we have already been homeschooled.

    Then I remember I got my first job (at a really fun restaurant), so my life DID change, but in reverse of what most people think of. I read posts like yours here and don't know what to feel. On one hand, I'm happy you're able to do things again! Very happy! I teared up in solidarity with this post. But on the other hand... I feel not-exactly-guilty that I was doing the opposite of what everyone was "supposed" to be doing. There's a dissonance. I've been lucky to live in a county with the lowest cases in the whole state. And I've rewritten this comment a few times already, trying not to sound like a snob or condescending. (Still probably do. If so, I apologize.)

    I suppose my first is going to be when I can have my bestie over for a weekend again now that she's graduated college. I texted her this afternoon if she would be available, either before or after the trip to Florida in July for Queen Purple's pageant nationals. We haven't hung out since last summer, and haven't had a sleepover since 2019.

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  33. The brain plays strange tricks. I thought my first ride on public transport two seeks after full vaccination would be nothing short of amazing. It was exciting for a moment - and then drew my attention to the many times I had been on buses before the pandemic. I had expected the first bus ride and the first visit to a grocery store to be memorable; instead, the events of 2020 seemed less memorable, unreal compared with such a long history of bus rides and grocery shopping before 2020.

    The first hug, on the other hand, was amazing and magical. One of my best friends visited, and we hugged each other hard. That hug was the best feeling, connecting us to each other.

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  34. A good friend and I had babies when all this started who aren't babies anymore. We continued to hang out, but always with them in carriers, a stroller, or pulling them away from each other. In two weeks all of the members of her household will be vaccinated and we can finally *finally* let the boys play together. I am so excited and can't wait. I'll probably cry.

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  35. The Husband and I have been completely cut off from our social circle by Covid, while still having to go to work. I was furloughed for a mere 6 weeks in March/April 2020, while he was only furloughed for 2 weeks before returning to work. Add to that, he has been working the night shift since November on 2019. So except for 2 weeks in March of 2020, we were on completely different schedules for 17 months.
    This coming Wednesday will be the first time we have seen our closest friends since October 2019! Game Night will happen at our house for the first time in a year and a half! I can not wait to hug those people!

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  36. Whenever I need a little bump of happiness, I go to Epbot (really, even posts about serious topics like John’s sleep issues or mental health and the supportive comments give me positive feels). Thanks Jen. I hope you enjoy all of the wonderful revelations of the beauty of normal.

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  37. I helped a couple friends out making a costume over a few days, around a busy weekend away. The rush of adrenaline, the thrill of completion, then being able to see it on stage. The gasp of the audience as the big reveal was made and there she was glittering on stage in something that had been fabric in a plastic bin less than a week previously. I knew I had missed theatre but it wasn’t until that moment, in a middle school play of all things, I realized I hadn’t really been honest with myself about how much, and how desperately I craved that in my life. It’s a slow road to recovery but I have a few big projects on the horizon, and a few waiting to be done that will head out to make magic at birthday parties and other events.

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  38. I had this happen last weekend. I've been so isolated this past 14 months that I haven't gone anywhere besides work and essential shopping. And I couldn't even go swimming because the pool at our condo complex had been closed for a year and a half, first due to repairs, and then COVID.

    The pool finally opened up last month, and I finally plucked up my courage to go.

    And, oh! When I heard the "click" of the lock on the pool gate opening, and I was able to step through, I suddenly felt deliriously happy. It was like opening the door to summer, to better days, to the start of a normal life. I thought, "this is the first step. Soon there'll be conventions again, and friends and theatre and plane trips." I hadn't felt that positive since this pandemic started. The unlocking of the gate was such a small thing, but it meant so much!

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  39. So Saturday night, it was me, the Vulcan, Ian, and Michael at Michael's house; drinking, smoking joints, huffin' WhipIts, and eating all this great food that Michael made us (he LOVES to cook, and hadn't for anyone but his Mom in SO long). We had the New Wave station playing on Music Choice (hey, we're old Punkers, so what?) and "This Must Be the Place" by the Talking Heads came on (AKA "Home is Where I Want to Be") and I gasped, teared up, grabbed Ian and said "Oh Lady of Mercy, I have literally dreamed about this moment for SO long. I almost couldn't listen to this song, because all I wanted in the damn world was to be with you, singing this together." And we all got sappy and sniffly and huggy and thank Bowie the next song was goofy-ass "Valley Girl" by Zappa so we could get back to the silly. Good times, y'all.

    Your Pal,

    Storm the Klingon

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  40. I'm not super huggy as a rule, but when one of my co-teacher's father passed away, my first reaction was to give her a hug and tell her how sorry I was. Then it hit me- I hadn't hugged anyone outside of my house in over a year. I just blurted out, "That felt so good!" (awkward, of course) but she said "Do it again" and we hugged some more. I have to admit, I got a little teary-eyed walking back down the hall. Just contact like that- I've missed it so much!

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  41. OK, so only people of my faith, probably only in my county in Utah will understand what seeing a man in a suit and tie in a grocery store on a warm Saturday means, but I about teared up! It means that our worship activities are slowly coming back to normal, and it's wonderful! The gentleman looked at me and wondered why I was staring at him, and only my social anxiety prevented me from asking where he'd been in his suit.

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