Friday, March 27, 2020

Becoming Close Without Being Physically Close

- a short distance away or apart in space or time
- in a position so as to be very near to someone or something; with very little space between

Just like the billions of other people in the world, close is not a word to use right now in this time of distancing oneself physically from others. As many call it, social distancing. 6+ feet apart is the cool new thing, along with Zoom cocktail hours, a weird role reversal by yelling at your parents for leaving their house (sucks doesn't it mom??), online learning, and sidewalk chalk art. Yet I find myself using that exact word more and more to describe myself, my family, friends, business contacts, and neighbors. 

I'm terrible at keeping my relationships in check. I have many, many people whom I love dearly, but I do a horrendous job at keeping in touch regularly with many of them. This is why our calendar is usually filled with cook outs, birthday parties, dinners, movie nights, date nights, etc. Nearly everything is 'catch up on life' get togethers with friends, family, business associates, etc. Overnight our social calendars went blank and I was left with no obligations. Free time loomed in front of me and I've chosen to make the most of it.

I began texting friends I haven't spoken to in what seems like forever just to check in. My children emailed teachers and video chatted with friends. My husband and I have a date night at home multiple times a week. My kids and I are closer than ever before (I really didn't think that was possible because there are still times I'm pretty sure one or all of them would crawl back up inside of me if given the chance). I've checked in with extended family members and aquintances daily. 

For the first time in a long time I can confidently say I truly know how the people in my life are doing. I no longer see anyone other my immediate family face to face, but I feel closer to people. I have sat on the phone with the people in my life throughout the last week listening to their tales of sudden unemployment, sending video messages and jokes to brighten their days, tried to ease their concerns of money, and above all else, putting my morals and ethics before my business (karma baby, it's a thing). I've texted "old" friends about funny memories to brighten their days. In return, my life has brightened.

I don't remember the last time I looked at a blank calendar. Actually, that's a lie. I do. It was in September when I got a new cell phone and my Google calendars didn't transfer to the new phone. Looking at that blank calendar sent me into a panic. But for the story's sake, I don't remember when my calendar had no meetings, no obligations, no must-do dinners. For many people, their calendar is their life. In truth, that's how mine is as well. I have reminders to pay bills and get groceries in my calendars. I have birthday's and anniversaries. In the last two weeks, I haven't had to live by my calendar once.

I often found myself living in the "calendar mentality." Meaning, if I noticed I had a girl's night dinner planned for the following week, why would I check in with them now if I'm just going to see them soon? Instead, I find myself checking in with people as soon as I think of them. I don't need my calendar to tell me that it's time to see someone/groups of friends or to celebrate someone's birthday (but I do still totally need that reminder that it IS someone's birthday) or to catch up with a friend. I have truly enjoyed this part of the unncertainity of these days.

I know I have the time to breathe, to answer a call or a text from a friend. I've suddenly stopped forgetting to reply to emails or texts because I have time to now do so (for those of you that don't know me, this was a serious issue. I'd read something, reply in my head, but fail to actually reply to someone. It was bad). I find myself breathing deeper because I have nowhere to be, nowhere to go. I've taken in the sounds of our own backyard. I've taken the time to have patio conversations with our neighbors while they sit on their's.

Not long ago, I looked at my husband and asked him if he remembered how life felt when the minis were toddlers. At a time when we didn't have as much money (as we do now), when we lived smaller, no long, multiple vacations in a year, very few random buys, very few date nights out because we were too tired. Instead, we'd make a cheap frozen pizza, play a game of Scrabble, and then Rock, Paper, Scissors it to see who would wake up with the babies in the morning. I feel a bit of that these days.

As a person who is always searching for positives in any circumstance, I fully realize how much this distancing has made me more connected to those I hold dear. We once again became close without being physically close. I'm confident that is something that wouldn't have happened without the events of the last two weeks. This is something I will keep in mind when the world surely opens again. When my calendar is filled and I stare at it wondering how I can make it all work. I'll be grateful for those moments as well, but will always keep in mind what it truly takes to be close to other human beings.