Human interaction adds dimension to life

It seems like just yesterday that Darling Hubby and I fell in love with our house. We knew it would soon be offered for sale, and we just had to have it. While we waited for the previous owner to be ready, we fixed up our house in the big city and started to make our plans. Dear readers, we were going to go full granola. OK, at least half granola. Severely crunchy. We were going to be real homesteaders. I mentally devoured books on self-sufficiency, organic living and sustainability. Somewhere around here, I still have the twenty or so recipes for soap that I thought we just couldn’t live without. We knew we would be giving up many of the urban comforts we had grown used to, but we were completely ready to “rough it,” or so we thought. What’s more, on the off chance of a total societal collapse, we would be READY.

Fast forward to the present day. We are slightly crunchy. More like toasted oatmeal than full-blown granola. We’ve learned a lot of things about the actual practical application of sustainability practices, namely exactly how much work we want to do for something that it’s easier (and usually cheaper) to just buy. That’s not to say we can’t, but that we want to actually have some spare time. This latest unpleasantness has really brought something to the fore that I didn’t factor into my hypothetical societal collapse. Human Contact.

Dear readers, I was sitting here surfing through Facebook a few weeks ago, when I happened to notice that the Italian place in McPherson was going to reopen after the stay at home order was lifted, just in time for Mother’s Day. I actually got butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of some major events that hadn’t happened for over a month.

First and foremost was the prospect of seeing my mother. We had been staying home, but when you’re used to seeing each other almost every week, an abrupt cutoff isn’t fun. And no, we didn’t use video chats. My mother is many things, but tech savvy is not one of them. I had been really struggling with the idea that she might catch the plague and pass without my ever getting to talk to her or hug her again. Those feelings ran the gamut from fear to anger to rage and back again. Mind you, I did my research on active cases and asked her permission before making the reservations. She agreed wholeheartedly.

A close second was the very idea of leaving my home, sitting down in an actual restaurant, eating hot, crispy food off actual plates with actual silverware, and *gasp* someone else cleaning up and doing the dishes. While getting carryout food was still a treat, some things just don’t do well on the trip home in styrofoam, and eating in the car quickly loses its charm. And, with the whole family at home, it seems like we use every single dish we own every single day. (The clogged sink was an adventure all in itself, but that’s a story for another day.) To put it bluntly, I am sick of doing dishes. The idea of someone else being responsible for them gives me great joy.

Dinner was amazing. The service was incredible, the food delectable. And I got to sit with, look at, and laugh with my mother. And yes, hug the stuffing out of her too. We decided together that we only have a certain amount of time on this Earth, and we weren’t going to miss out on any more hugs. And, as if that weren’t enough, we were surrounded by other people. People talking, smiling, laughing, eating, LIVING. These weren’t stressed people in a hurry, or angry people accusing each other. As the music of their conversations washed over me, I realized that this was another big thing we’d missed out on this last month. I love the company of my family. I also welcome the presence of contented “others.” Whether it’s background noise or active people watching, the interaction you have with people outside your family group adds that extra dimension to life.

And that’s something Zoom just can’t do. We’ve had our share of that this month too. Martial arts in the driveway with a laptop just can’t hold a candle to actual classes in person on the mats. Teachers speaking and other students on the screen just aren’t the same as interacting with your classmates, even the ones you may not like. We all need each other to add depth to our days.

As we start getting back to normal, don’t forget that human interaction. Remember that we’re all essential to someone. Take whatever precautions you feel necessary, but take care not to become literally socially distant. Get some sunlight and fresh air, and remember this too shall pass.

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