Recently, I have had many moments where I wanted to leap out of my own skin and escape to a faraway land filled with socially-undistanced hugs and germ-laden stores and restaurants. This land would also have outdoor concerts where I could dance among throngs of people and friends and soccer fields where I could watch my daughter do what she loves most.
Anyone else relate?
Huddling in our houses for the last month in an effort to flatten the curve, we have been the unwitting participants in a weird and uncomfortable experiment in social isolation. Even for me, a solid, card-carrying, off-the-charts introvert, this has been so hard.
In my pre-pandemic life, I was the one who would rejoice over canceled plans, never answer the phone (that’s what TEXTING is for, people!), and happily be in my PJ’s by 7 pm. Fast-forward to pandemic life, and I find myself excited about Zoom calls with my besties and salivating over the thought of sitting in a driveway with other humans. Six feet apart, of course.
It feels so good just to simply be with people, to talk and share ideas, to laugh, and let our worries see the light of day. To vent about the good, bad, and ugly of so much family time.
I will never forget what it felt like to hug my best friend and my dad when we started to peek cautiously out of quarantine. Such a simple thing, but my heart felt so full, and tears of joy spilled down my face. Is there anything better than a whole-hearted, genuine hug?
We are such communal beings. We need each other so much. And collectively, as we’ve shown through our efforts to flatten the curve, we can do so much good.
I do wonder how social interactions will change after this pandemic. Are handshakes an overly-touchy relic of the past? Will there always be a mathematical risk/benefit analysis before a big, juicy hug? Are graduations, concerts, festivals, and large gatherings a nostalgic throwback to simpler times? How will workplaces change?
The future may hold awkwardly bumping elbows and talking through muffled masks. Our gatherings may be smaller and socially-distanced. Our workplaces may look and feel different, but one constant remains: we will always have a deep need for connection and communion.
Despite all of its difficulties and challenges, the Great Pause of 2020 has brought the simplicity of life bubbling to the surface. When all the busy-ness and frantic activity fell away, we found ourselves slowing down and finding creative ways to connect with family and friends.
As we “reopen America” and head back out into the world, we will likely be tiptoeing back as changed (and slightly-traumatized) people. We have been turned upside down and shaken and stirred like an ice-cold quarantini. We will need to be gentle with ourselves as we navigate a different world with strange and ever-changing rules and social graces.
I, for one, look forward to cheering on the soccer field sidelines again soon, arm-in-arm (err, six feet apart) with the other soccer moms. And I will hold out hope that big, juicy hugs make an epic comeback.