Friends then and now

Thanks for the comments and questions, you’ve allayed my fears of challenging questions or no questions! I’m going to try to get to all of them in the next days, but I encourage more suggestions and thoughts; this feels like the best way to bring everything full circle as I finish this writing experiment.

Both A. and Paul, in slightly different ways, brought up the idea of friendship, how it may have changed during this pandemic, and what it will look like when life returns to a modicum of normal; as I’ve just spent a half hour in a text flurry, it seemed especially apropos.

I really, really miss doing this with my friends…

In balance, I feel like forced isolation has strengthened my ties to the people I’m closest to. Being unable to socialize in person somehow levels the playing field in the sense that it doesn’t matter if a friend lives across town or across the country; we can only see each other through FaceTime/Zoom etc. so distance lost its meaning. The result has been a more regular connection with those far-away friends that I rarely see as well as my in-town friends, a definite upside.

I’ve been fortunate that all of my family and a vast majority of my friends have trusted the advice of epidemiologist, health authorities and other scientists, and have exercised caution and protected the health of others. A few, however, are convinced that lockdown is an overreaction and that reviving the economy supersedes the possibility of unnecessary illness and death and that this is all a constructed crisis.

Luckily, none of these are close friends; I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation. As for the more peripheral friends who advocate the conspiracy point of view…I’m fine with having them float more to the periphery. These days I feel I have little tolerance for anger or accusation, and I would rather walk quietly away.

For myself, especially in the early days of quarantine, the sense of isolation, the fear of possible illness and the general sense of the frailty of our lives made me acutely feel the necessity of my support system, of the deep connections I’ve created with so many throughout my life, and the love I felt for them. As a result, I’ve become more transparent with everyone, more wiling to be completely honest with my feelings, especially of my vulnerability. And without fail I’ve had candid and truly authentic exchanges in return.

How have my relationships changed during the pandemic? For the most part, they’ve deepened and strengthened, and have reminded me of what’s most important in life.

My task: committing this reflection on friendship to (virtual) paper has strengthened my resolve to remember this feeling of connection and to actively continue to sustain it. I’m going to make some Marco Polo video messages right now. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Marco Polo is a messaging app that lets you record videos that function just like texts – you can respond immediately or you can watch and respond later. My friends and I have ended up sending each other long messages every week, and I’ve reconnected with a lot of people this way. HIGHLY recommend!

As a reminder, please keep posing your own questions in the comment section, it’s so mind-opening for me to read about the things that you’re thinking about!

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