Another musing on this period of transition we’re muddling through. I don’t know about you, but I feel I have one foot tethered to the pandemic, while the other trying to leap forward. Eagerly or gingerly leap forward depending on the moment or more often than not, the person. In some ways I’ve anticipated the tension, the pull of opposing forces (health! safety! but enough already with this COVID routine!) but what’s been intriguing (as I step back from my emotions) is navigating the divide that has opened-up with long-standing relationships, both friends and family.
Has COVID exposed existing or opened-up new distances?
I live in New York City, my family and many of my close friends do not. This has been my reality for 20+ years. Trips “home” for family occasions have been fewer and farther for an even longer period of time (WTW! 30 years???). Regular calls, birthday cards, holiday packages, weekly texts, tweets and posts are the tools I (or more correctly, I should say, we) have mostly relied on to keep a pulse on each other’s lives – tools which largely feel inadequate right now when we’re individually living a shared but uniquely different experience miles apart. But I remind myself (again), that’s been the case for a while.
Tick, Tock: A Connection Ticking Time Bomb
When we could easily jump on a plane, the borders between us were invisible, and perhaps, all COVID has done is exposed the reality: these “close” relationships have been waning for years, and the contribution of the past 18 months was to simply speed up that process. Not the cause, just the accelerant. Knowing that doesn’t turn this into a check-the-box “ok those relationships are done” exercise. Releasing isn’t easy when societal signals around us expect us (in a demanding, bewildered way that you would dare to act in a contrary way) to reconcile, endure, to hold on to the very relationships, I feel are gently, drifting away.
Did I miss the signals or have I glossed over them?
I know I can’t turn back the clock – nor frankly, do I wish to. The regrets on missing a birthday or anniversary or graduation are well behind me, but there is a slipping away that I find myself grasping for at times, a last gasp before acceptance perhaps, that some semblance of closeness is behind me, now permanently lost. Rather than scrambling to find it (like a lost photograph you knew you placed somewhere safe), I’m navigating this newly-acknowledged distance I’m experiencing by staying in the moment (I know, a tacky cliché, but my ‘in the moment’ involves stomping down the gremlin in my head which makes up all sorts of wild, psychotic stories as to why so-and-so doesn’t return a voicemail or remembered an event or or or and on and on etc.). By acknowledging these feelings that bubble up, with an openness to what’s next, I’m able to just, let, go.