I got a text from my friend Patricia last week. We’re in St. Paul, she wrote. Full vaxed and boosted with a negative PCR test 48 hours ago. Can we meet up?
My response; Yes yes yes!
We spent this afternoon together. She drove over to Mpls (as the natives call it) from St. Paul and came up to my apartment. We walked around “my” lake together. Because we had a “warm spell” a few days ago (it got up to 40), much of the snow is gone and we just had to navigate the occasional patch of black ice. (It’s back down to the teens and twenties again with more snow starting tonight; as I don’t have to contend with rush hour traffic, I have the luxury of being able to welcome its return.) We got in her borrowed car and drove ten minutes to the Art Institute, where we wandered for an hour and then had a late lunch. She drove me home. It was a completely ordinary day with a friend. Only such days aren’t ordinary any more, not for any of us.
Being in a new city where I have family but no friends, I am acutely aware of how isolated I am much of the time. But the truth is, it wouldn’t be all that different if I were still in Seattle. No, that’s not really true. I have three good friends who live near Green Lake and if I were still there, I would be meeting up with them for walks around that lake. But all my friends, wherever they are, talk about how isolated they still are, how few people they see. We all have different comfort levels and we’ve all adapted our lives accordingly. One only goes to the market very early in the morning. Another still doesn’t go at all, and orders online. I go once every week or ten days, stretching it out as long as possible. But nothing is done with the kind of casualness that we took for granted in the Before times.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t be feeling this kind of appreciation for such an “ordinary” day if our lives hadn’t been turned upside down and inside out by Covid. I’m not generally the person to go to if you’re looking for a silver lining, but in this case, I have definitely found one.