To say this year has been unique is a definite understatement. It is nothing I have ever experienced before. From August to March, I was living with three other people, sharing time and resources, in a new city. Together, Jacob, Claire, Keara and I grew as we experienced this new life. My favorite moments, outside of service, would be the nights that we would all sit in the living room together, talking and laughing through a show or enjoying the finest wines and cheeses a shared budget could buy. Since March, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had to learn what it means to stay connected and present to my community virtually.
Honestly, it has been hard. I have always struggled with maintaining relationships through distance even before quarantine. I am a very touchy-feely person who prefers to experience other people in the moment, face to face, no holds barred on emotions and questions. Now, in quarantine, I have lost the luxury of being able to experience idle time with someone. No longer can I sit and embrace the nothingness with another person. Instead, each interaction must be planned and scheduled in advance. Once the business has concluded, it requires a definitive end. There is no idle time to experience when it involves being glued to a screen that rejects uncomfortable silences. Get the business done and then I am forced to click the big red “LEAVE MEETING” button. But how do I reclaim what I am grieving? Well, I need to learn that leaving the meeting is not the same as logging off, to which I am guilty of. When I look at the community as the job, with each day comes a mandatory task, I feel as if I am working. Not the good, wholesome work, but the monotonous punch-in, punch-out, 15-minute lunch break, nose to the grind kind of work. To get back the moments I lose in person, I need to flip the script (something my community member Claire taught me). There are new moments to share. With technology comes a different avenue, like sharing a meaningful song each day, or our favorite pictures, or funny videos that remind us of each other. I am changing my definition of presence so that it includes taking the effort for the small moments. It isn’t exactly the same, and yes I miss the physical interaction, but it is worth “logging on” for.
San Diego, CA 2019-2020