This is an odd season, isn’t it? I can’t go to the office. I can’t meet friends for lunch or coffee. I am home much more than I was a month ago. I feel more isolated. I am trying to call people on the phone more, just to check in. But talking on the phone isn’t the same as face to face. I am in a few small groups and we are trying to meet online through Zoom and other apps, which has been even better in some ways because I can look at everyone at the same time. I can now see their body language as well as hear their words. But the power of personal presence just can’t compare, thus leading to more feelings of isolation.
Normally, when I find myself at home for extended periods, I do projects. I paint or try to fix things like our screen door that makes a funny noise, but I don’t do those kinds of things very well. In fact, when I “fix things” it can be an even more expensive project (since we have to call someone in to fix what I did in addition to what was already broken).
I like staying up-to-date with current events. Only now it is current “event.” There isn’t anything going on except Covid-19. The only news is how many people are sick, how many will get sick, and how we are doing as a country trying to take care of the sick. I find that watching too much of that produces lots and lots of anxiety. All of my sporting interests are on hold. There was no March Madness. There is no NBA or major league baseball or Olympics or golf.
Life feels like it has a hole in the middle. It feels more empty, and so do I.
I find myself a little fearful at home. Lynne and I are spending so much time together in the house. We are trying to take “social distancing” seriously, so it is mostly just us. We run to the store every so often. We are very grateful for Starbucks. But mostly we are together at home.
We are trying to take each other’s “anxiety temperature” each day. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being greatest), what is your anxiety reading today? Some days it is higher than others, although I really don’t know why.
For years, we have reconnected each day at “wine time.” We sit in the sunroom or on the patio and talk about our days. Who did we talk with that day? What was meaningful or hard for us? The conversation is often meaningful. But now, we already know most of that from bumping into each other during the day.
And I feel more boring.
Recently, when we had our morning check-in and she asked how I was, I told her I felt boring. She “got it,” without me having to say more. She knew that I was really feeling afraid – afraid that if she rubbed up close to me for too long, she would get bored – and not want me. She knew that there was a lot behind those words. Even saying them feels scary. What if you are? What if I am? What if? Will you want me?
That was the real fear. If I don’t have interesting things to share or accomplishments that matter, if I am just me, will you want me/love me?
I think I was looking down when I shared those words. And when I looked up, she smiled and said, “I guess we can be boring together.”
It is easier to do it together. ☺
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.