Last week I finally came out of the house for something other than groceries. My book group met in our host’s backyard, with chairs social distance, and pizza and salad at a table also away from the chairs. I’ve been in this book group for a long time. At least ten years, probably more. These women have all become good friends of mine.
It was hard not to hug them! But I managed to keep my arms to myself. As for food, I think there was a method to it, but at the time, I just got up and got a plate with another person at the table and helped myself. Thinking about it later, after everyone went up one by one, I decided to stay in my chair the remainder of our time together.
We are a book group who actually reads and discusses the books. And we did some of that, but it was more difficult. More often than not, there were three groups talking to each other. This sometimes happens at other meetings too, before social distancing. I always want to hear both conversations and this time I knew there was no way to hear all three conversations.
It was nice to get out, nice to see friends, but I don’t care for the social distance aspect of it at all. Everyone has their own idea of how careful to be, and nobody knows what anybody else expects, so it’s a little awkward. Tomorrow, there’s a gathering in my community at a shared space we call the flagpole, because brick pavers surround a flag in the middle of a large circle. This area is larger than the gazebo in my backyard, so the planners of this cocktail hour thought it would be better to meet in the bigger space.
The plan sounds okay, but having lived through one much smaller group gathering at a distance, I know I’ll dislike it. They asked that we bring our own chair, our own food, our own drinks. We usually have a communal food table and hardly anybody sits. A cocktail party is for mingling, for catching up with everyone. This is not going to be that. It will be sitting in a chair at a safe social distance from everyone but the people on either side. And no hugging!!!
The Zoom workshop over the weekend had a similar disconnect. The content was fine, but I didn’t feel the energy in the room like I do with real people. It’s difficult to make eye contact with thumbnail pics, people’s mics were all muted so there were no impromptu questions, no give and take. Instead questions ran down the side of the screen, which distracted me a bit. It went okay, but this would not be my preferred mode of teaching.
Al and I have not gone out to dinner yet, but a friend who did go out to a favorite Italian place said it was just as if the pandemic never happened. Yes, it was just 50% capacity, yes, the waiter wore a mask, yes, there were clear Plexiglas shields further dividing the booths, but none of that mattered. It felt to her like things used to be. Before.
Also, still no answer at my hairdresser’s phone despite salons officially opening here in our part of Michigan today. They’re usually closed on Mondays, as are many salons, so I won’t go into a decline about that just yet. The book group were all saying they had booked appointments! Somebody made me laugh when she said she just wasn’t ready to be gray yet. We are all in our 60s and 70s. If not now, when?
I do know that many women dye their hair their entire lives. And leave instructions for the undertaker to touch up their roots, should there be any when they die. But I’m so used to being a silver, that part doesn’t bother me. I just want a hair cut. And I want small businesses to open again and thrive. But most of all I want to be close to people again.