Did we really used to sit on couches cheek to cheek? Did I really shake students’ hands after meeting with them? Did I open a door without thinking that someone else had touched it? Did I greet friends and family with warm bear hugs? When I watch a movie, I think these people are standing so close to each other.
We maintain six feet – like presenters in a classroom or speakers at an invisible podium. I’m used to giving talks to groups of people. I’m a teacher and college administrator. But I’m not used to standing apart from others in my own house. My brother-in-law Vince came over for dinner eight days ago, and he stood at the end of the kitchen counter throughout the meal. When he left, he waved, smiled, and walked out the door. I did not escort him to the porch. We kept our physical distance out of love. I wonder now when we will have another visitor to our home.
Tim and I are healthy and uninfected, as of today 28 March 2020, and we have established territories in our new workspace consisting of six rooms. Tim is grounded in his routine. He gets up before 4:30am, works in the sunroom, and at 8:00am, he moves to his desk in our bedroom at the back of the house. I do not see him until around 5:00pm. He stays put – focused and present for his clients and team. On weekends, instead of working at his desk, he works from the couch. Right now, he is fully equipped with iphone, ipad, laptop, and earbuds as he takes a course. I don’t anticipate talking with him for hours as he sits ten feet away from me.
I am a roamer. I gotta move. I start my day with my laptop near an east window, so I can see the sunrise. Then I move to the guest bedroom for Zoom meetings where there is little reflection. Randomly, I wander downstairs to sit by the windows facing the front of the house. In the late afternoon, I switch to the sunroom to soak in the sunlit dance on the moss in the woods. Ants in my pants. That’s what my dad used to say.
I run every morning along Lake Shore Drive near our home in Northwest Indiana, and the walkers part ways as I pass. I say good morning, but very few respond. Yesterday, a man in an Illinois sweatshirt appeared from the dune grass on the beach. I shouted that it was great to see a fellow Illini. He stopped and said that his son is a senior there and will miss U of I’s graduation this year. I could feel his desire to share it with someone who would understand. I didn’t tell him that Tim and I didn’t participate in commencement at Illinois, but I listened and nodded – emotionally connected in spite of our physical distance. We parted ways after a two-minute interaction, and it felt so good to chat as if the world was how it used to be.