The four of us meet online, laughing and catching up. I’ve known these women for almost 20 years. They were the ones who kept me going when my life fell apart a couple of years ago, and although they had known each other before, through me, that time formed a group bond that is still strong.
At one point in our Zoom video conference this week we realized we were all supposed to be somewhere else. Pam should have been in Japan, on a trip that was a gift to her daughter for her university graduation. Helen was supposed to be in Egypt, visiting a daughter who was teaching in Cairo. Alana was supposed to be in the Cook Islands with her husband, who had earned the incentive trip through work. I was supposed to be in Costa Rica, on an outdoor adventure with the new man in my life.
When we first met, our travelling was usually camping trips with children or visiting relatives, so it’s interesting that we have all become this adventurous in our trips. I think at a certain stage of life many of us realize that experiences are what hold the most value. And to be honest, we have more than enough, maybe too many, things.
Yet when we think of where we should have been, no one complains. It is what it is, in the time of COVID. Perhaps we will take the trips later, perhaps not. But now, we garden, we sew, we cook, we read, we work at jobs or projects, and we spend time, in person and virtually, with our friends and family. When someone asks, “How are you?” the automatic answer is no longer, “Busy!”
We planned this Zoom visit the day before. A year ago, we would have planned weeks in advance and as often or not something would come up for someone and it would need to be rescheduled. We were all so busy. We would sometimes make the time, however, to get together one on one, for a tea, a glass of wine, or a walk. A dozen years before, we would have mostly seen each other at events: dinner parties, school concerts, children’s sports, birthday celebrations.
Perhaps we would have come to this point in any case, as our family obligations became less immediate and pressing and the demands of work (for some of us) lessened. Perhaps it is just the result of growing older. But our quarantine, the extra time and the inability to go where we want, when we choose, has made it clear to all of us what is truly important.
And that is the people in our lives.
When this is over, when we have the ability to once again zoom (as opposed to Zoom) and fill our lives with busy, I hope we remember.