The idea of keeping friends at a distance is unnatural. It feels strange to stand six feet away from a person when having a conversation. Last week I went to a plant nursery to get advice from one of the staff. We were outside, both wearing masks, but as we spoke, she kept backing up and I kept moving towards her. When she held up her hand to indicate I should keep my distance I realized how instinctive, how normal it is to stand near other people when conversing. But these are not normal times. Distancing is difficult but it is one way we can still be together with friends.

In this time, I really feel the need for friends. Life as we knew it a few months ago is not possible and the future is uncertain. And there are the weird moments: I drove through a red light last week; I lose things constantly; I have weird, absurd dreams. I miss hanging out with friends, so I was especially grateful when I received an unexpected invitation in my email.

My “neighborhood” is a street of eight new houses. Everyone is friendly but until recently family, jobs, travel, and the busyness of daily life did not leave much time to get to know each other. Now, with all of us primarily homebound because of the pandemic, my wonderful neighbor Liat organized a Distancing Happy Hour on a recent Sunday evening. The oldest neighbor is 84, the youngest 18 months. We were careful: everyone wore masks, brought our own glasses and drinks and kept our distance while becoming better acquainted. I slept well that night, happy to connect mask-to-mask with my neighbors, despite the distance.

Have a good week!



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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