Our need to connect with other people is as fundamental to our survival as our need for food and water. In this strange new paradigm, how do we safeguard our physical health without losing our mental and emotional well-being?
Like everyone, I need time alone. As an extrovert though, I do find that being around others contributes to keeping my glass half full. And so, this past weekend, feeling like I needed a little more than my favorite four homebound people, I decided to get creative.
First, I helped organize an impromptu block party. In preparation for our 6pm social distancing event, I showered for the first time in days and donned an actual bra. I was the first one out the front door with my perfectly chilled glass of wine (Livio Felluga Friulano 2017). When I plopped myself down on the curb in front of my house, the sun was low in the sky and the air and pavement were still warm.
Neighborhood doors opened. Suddenly, there was beer and wine and bourbon, plus my lovely neighbors. Gathering together while maintaining our distance, we passed a lively hour or so catching up on everything and nothing. By the time the moon rose, we were all back in our respective homes feeling connected and content.
Later the same night, having consumed our millionth-in-a-row home-cooked family dinner, the five of us enjoyed a lively FaceTime session with dear friends. Despite the fact that it is usually next to impossible to get the ten of us together with six kids’ schedules and four busy adults, there we all were, suspended in time together. Perhaps there is a silver lining in the efforts we are making to make time for each other.
Yesterday I had a blissful two hours sitting in the strong afternoon sunshine in a parking lot sharing both laughter and despair with four of the best women I know. We have been friends since our children were in Kindergarten. Now those Kindergartners are college Freshman stuck back home with us. Between then and now, my girlfriends and I have shared both difficult times and countless joyful giddy nights. Even a full ten feet apart, I could feel their warmth and our connection. I am confident that we will continue to be sources of fun, comfort and strength for each other.
Finally, I hopped on a five-way FaceTime meet up with a handful of my ride-or-die girlfriends. The WiFi wasn’t great. When we were discussing something stressful or sad, their faces would freeze with a look of worry that I know matched my own. Then, a few minutes later, their faces would freeze with giant smiles on them that again, matched the one on my own face.
Human connection is about exchanging energy and paying attention to one another. It is about being heard, being understood and being supported. Hugs are great, eye contact is great, but the act of connecting by any means is most important. Now, more than ever, our emotional and physical health depends on finding safe ways to continue to connect and show those we love how important they are to us.