I've been thinking a lot about human connection and the way that this current crisis has caused us all to lean into the virtual space in a way we never quite have before. Despite the ever-present phones in our hands, we have always had the option of speaking face to face. Being in the same space. Promising to get together for coffee -- even at times when we knew it would never happen.
We didn't know how good we had it. How often, in recent years, would you go to a restaurant, look around and see all the faces peering down at the little screens in their hands? Human connection in person didn't excite us; our eyes continually drawn to the pinging, blinking devices.
Recently, when I went out for groceries, it felt like a scene from an apocalyptic movie. Quiet streets, with only a few vehicles crawling down them. And yet, stopped at the red light, faces still looking down at their screens.
In the store, people looked furtively away from each other, as if the mere act of talking could infect them. As one used to smiling at strangers, I found it disconcerting.
As I returned home, I saw the postal delivery person pulling up in his truck. I called across the street to him -- a safe distance -- "Thank you for all your hard work." He turned and smiled at me, asked how I was doing, if I needed anything. I didn't even realize how much I'd missed those sorts of casual interactions until it happened. The sun suddenly seemed brighter, the load lighter.
This despite the fact that I'm holed up with the two people I love most in the world. In fact, my daily routine is full of much more social interactions than I typically get, working from home while my son would be in school and my husband at work. We've crafted a new routine, and we're making time for finding bonding on top of all the remote learning and working.
I've also have been thinking about how valuable any connections are, whether remote or close. These times have made me highly aware of how many friends I speak to on a regular basis over social media. Some of them go back decades, and share real-life experiences with me. Others I met in the virtual world: whether through writing communities, or fandom, or through mutual interests. In these days, those people matter so much more than I'd ever realized they could. An Instagram friend in Spain, whose funny plastic dinosaur pictures made me laugh. The writer friends I've made through LJ Idol, a group of kind, thoughtful, witty people whose writing takes me away from worry. The silly new fan Facebook group, sprung up from people whose fandom conventions were canceled, hosting a ridiculous virtual convention where anything can happen.
Every smile, every kind word matters so much. I just want to thank you all for being part of my world.
Like spindly light veins
trestling through air. That
feeling you get
where a smile
Maybe a thin stream
of honey, a buoy