My husband and I have been married for 36 years. We quietly celebrated our anniversary on June 2nd, Blackout Tuesday. Long-term marriage is not without its challenges and through the years we’ve had a couple of good counselors guide us through difficult times.
The best marriage counselors, like the best fitness trainers, impart wisdom that we can turn to when we need it. Twenty full years later, I find myself reflecting on these words: “There’s Tom’s world and there’s Michele’s world and those are different places.”
I’m not searching for guidance on getting along with husband this time, though. I’m looking for a way to explain and accept peoples’ differing responses to living in a pandemic. I repeated the mantra in my head this morning while I enjoyed coffee on the front porch with my husband.
From our elevated perch, we watched one of my favorite neighbors visiting with a friend. Neither was wearing a face covering. They came walking down the street, side by side, enthusiastically conversing until they stopped directly across the street from us. They continued talking, face to face, without observing any social distancing recommendations.
My friend and her husband are fifteen years older than us, but we have a lot in common with them and greatly enjoy their company. They were often guests in our home before the pandemic. In May and June, my friend and I began a two-person book club and met in each others yards to talk from a distance of six feet.
We did speak of the pandemic and it was clear that our family was taking greater precautions than she and her husband, but initially they did seem concerned about the danger. Over time it’s become clear, from both conversation and observation, that they are returning to pre-covid life just as the cases and hospitalizations in my state and county are rising at an alarming, record-setting rate.
When she called last week to ask if I’d like to join her for coffee in her yard, I declined telling her that, with cases going up, I’d rather schedule a Zoom call. She was game and we had a lovely chat, as we always do.
My husband and I watched her friendly visit in near disbelief.
“I don’t know,” I offered with deep insight. Even more insightful: “It seems we are not just living on opposite sides of the street; we are living in completely different worlds.”
“Yes,” my husband agreed…because that’s what husbands do.
I felt a bit lonely sitting with that thought. My good friend and I living so near and yet we’re so far apart.
Five minutes later, I caught sight of another friend walking with her daughter and her dog, two of them wearing masks. I quickly put on my pretty pink mask and approached them…stopping at the appropriate distance.
She’d had a scare; one of her co-workers was diagnosed with Covid-19. She’s an essential worker at a local utility company. The office is managed to exacting standards. The virus had been picked up from the day care center that the employee’s children attend. My friend has been so careful. Thankfully, her test was negative, but it was a shock.
We’d discussed getting together for sangria in my yard on our last call just after the state had begun to re-open and our county’s numbers were very small. We agreed we’d visit from six feet apart, but forego the masks to enjoy the beverage we both so love.
I was looking forward to it, until I wasn’t. She pre-empted me: “We’ll need to do sangria over ZOOM,” she said.
I wanted to hug her. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone. I felt understood and that was such a comfort. Two friends…I need them both. Someday, I’ll be happy to welcome all my friends back into my home and my life, but for now I’ll love them all from afar…the ones who live in the same world as I do and the ones who live in another world.
I wish you, dear readers, good health and peace of mind.