Wow, what a time to be alive, and afraid, and also so clear. The pandemic has made all of us reevaluate what matters to us, and what we really can’t do without. I can’t do without my friends. I wouldn’t be able to survive this seemingly endless pandemic halfway sane without them.
Early on, my great pals Karen and Jena started having a Zoom cocktail night with me on Thursday evenings. Though Karen is local to me, Jena now lives 1,500 miles away, and we always miss her like crazy. We used to do dinner and drinks out all the time. Having these weekly dates brought all of us closer again. The technology made it possible to bridge the geographical distance and for me to have a ladies’ night, albeit from my couch, on the regular. Now, if a Thursday night goes by and we don’t catch up, I feel like half a person.
Last summer, my long-time friend MaryAnne created a little haven in her backyard; she started inviting a few of us over to swim in her pool every Sunday the weather permitted. Swimming was one of the only safe recreational activities we could do. We floated around the pool socially distanced, and when we emerged dripping, we settled into spaced-out chairs to drink beers that we each brought ourselves. As the weather cooled in the fall, we wore layers and just drank beer. When winter arrived in earnest, we wore snow pants and boots, and started bringing hot toddies in thermoses to huddle around the umbrella heater. This year, these activities have been on repeat, and I am so grateful.
Just after things shut down in early 2020, a few MFA buddies and I regrouped for writing nights. I hadn’t been in workshops with them for a few years and wasn’t sure they’d want to do it, but everyone, without hesitation, said yes. Now, Kim, Heidi, Jodie, Lisa, and I have again been working through essays, poems, and book excerpts for more than a year. Some of us have even published a few of those things! And because our graduate program was all online, being on Zoom with them actually feels entirely natural. (I never knew if they had legs to begin with.)
“I don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends I can be certain of.”Alice Walker
My former graduate school advisor has become a bestie/fairy godmother/big sister. My work friends have been supportive as hell when I’ve acted half insane or been too depressed to think straight. I’ve connected online in deep ways with an elementary school friend I haven’t seen in decades. I’m blessed by having the loveliest neighbors anyone could ever want, and we hang out and look after each other.
There aren’t enough ways to say thank you to the incredible friends I’m humbled and honored to know. Having them in my sphere assures me I will survive the darkest days — and have beautiful creatures to celebrate with on the brightest ones. They provide comfort, understanding, and extreme patience. They call me out on my shit, make me laugh, and love me even when I feel completely unlovable.
My friends make me feel rich beyond reason.