In the beginning, I was sure isolation would take its toll on my well-being. I like people. I was a bit anxious how I would connect with my friends and family, but like most people I know I am reaping unexpected benefits from having to think outside the box.
During the first or second week of the shelter at home order in the state of Ohio, one of my daughters initiated a game of Farkle. We each rounded up our own dice. (Don’t tell, but I had to rob a couple of board games to make it work.) We played, talked, and laughed via Face Time. I kept score as we played. Danielle, the middle of my three girls opted to not play, but was “present” for the fun. And, yes, it was fun. Time well spent. People living in five different houses playing together, yet it felt as if we were all in the same room. So much so that later that evening my mother started to check to make sure she locked the front door after her company left. It was that real.
Now, since my oldest daughter found a free game spot online where we could design our own cards and games, we’ve enjoyed playing Backstreet Rummy or Baseball together. We still use our phones and Face Time to talk smack and share bits and pieces of our lives, but the connections do more than determine a winner. In fact we are all winners. We are connected. Even my granddaughter is getting in on the game of Baseball and has a running game with her great grandmother and me. Pretty cool.
My oldest granddaughter read a chapter from the Boxcar Children to my mom every evening until they came to the end of the book. I don’t think that would have happened if it had not been for this time of isolation. My youngest granddaughter has read several picture books to me. It turns out you’re never too old to enjoy a good bedtime story.
But it is not all technology stuff. There was an Easter egg hunt in my backyard while fully acknowledging social distancing. And I’ve chatted with other family members face-to-face with our faces more than six feet apart. I dropped in on my mom one day and we enjoyed the sunshine on her deck while we visited.
One of my grandsons in Wisconsin wrote me a letter. A real, honest-to-goodness pencil and paper letter! I’m not sure when I last received a hand written letter. It was great. So I wrote back to him.
And I generally get to see my oldest daughter once or twice a week. She has designated herself as my personal shopper. She picks up groceries for both my mother and me. I don’t know if she will ever know how much that means to us.
Of course I miss the hugs, but the intentional connections prove to be powerful reminders that we are in this together.
I knew when I moved into this house, it was a good neighborhood. My immediate neighbors…those closest physically to me…were warm and welcoming. Many of my neighbors work and lead busy lives. Until now.
The weather has been ideal for walking. I’ve enjoyed getting my steps in on these bright sunny days. In doing so, I’ve met more neighbors than ever.
There’s the sweet little family from Paris with the new baby. Their two older children wave to me, their new “ami,” when we meet on the road. They like it that I practice my French with them. And the family from Macedonia who live around the corner like to talk with me about my experiences in Kosovo.
Then there’s the family who likes to golf. We’ve had good conversations about the sport. He works for the Parks Department. Who knew?
I’ve met people as they walk or as they are working in their yards and gardens. I’ve met them as they sit on their porch and I admire the sidewalk art displayed by their children. I’ve chatted with people I never knew before about the weather, their cute babies, their dogs and their flowers. We talk about many things. Except the pandemic. Perhaps that’s why it feels so healthy. So good.
And…I went to a “block party.” It was a "bring your own beverage, bring your own chair, and sit in your own space" affair. There I met several neighbors I did not know at all. We laughed and shared stories. We solved several major issues in the world. We had fun.
I came home from that party and made a map of my neighborhood. Now, whenever I meet new people, I write their names on the map. It’s a rather crude, absolutely not to scale drawing. For those of you who have seen my handwriting, you’ll understand when I say I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who can decode it.
But I value the map because I value the people.
I want to remember them.
I want to stay connected.
What are you doing to stay in touch with others?