Castaway, Tom Hanks, Desert Island, Remote, Social Distancing

Back In The Social Stride?

So everything is the same, is it? But everything is different, isn’t it? We can proceed until apprehended but what if we get apprehended? By the pandemic? By our own sorry lack of energy? By the fact that the rhythm of life has subtly changed and we no longer really understand what the parameters are.

Friendship, over the last 18 months developed a kind of glorious simplicity. We saw no one for a while. We kept in touch with a few obvious people and remotely connected with a few unexpected people. Then we saw a few people and that was kind of cosy and early and comforting.

But now? Well, now it’s ON. We are planning and planning and WhatsApp-ing and emailing and trying to get groups together for dinner because we want to but also because we know we should. And yet most of those plans aren’t coming to fruition. Most of us aren’t seeing many more people than we did this time last year. The parameters have shifted.

Let’s take cancellation as a for instance: it has lost its agony and its shame. Everyone cancels almost all of the time. You call a friend at 5pm to ask what time she expects you for dinner and she says ‘I’m sitting in the beanbag with the dog and I can’t move’ and you think ‘Fair enough,’ and plan your telly for the evening. Or one member of a group sends a message saying, ‘So Sorry – I messed up. Turns out there’s a work thing on the 6th. Can we do the 9th?’ And everyone understands but no one bothers to reschedule because the intention to meet was enough to prove commitment to the friendship but it all feels a bit complicated. The desire to be together has become as nutritious as being together.

The rhythm has changed. And we are meant to dance to the beat of what drum exactly? We’re not in terrible shape. The inclination is there. We just need to find a new groove (said the 300-year-old woman). And we will. At some point. Let’s – for once – not panic. Friendship is resilient. And we are, after all, in this together.

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