I was on the road for my family’s much anticipated summer vacation when I received a text from my friend Amy, whom I had not seen in over a decade. She saw my post on social media about my destination, which is where she now lived, and asked if we could get together. Gracious and thoughtful about how family vacations can be, Amy left it up to me if I wanted to see her one-on-one, get our families together, or take a pass if it felt like too much during a pandemic.
It was June, just after my kids got out of school. While we were in some ways moving out of the pandemic, the inertia of it was still in effect. I wanted to see Amy tremendously, but I had to take a beat to assess my comfort level and that of my family. We determined we would be okay meeting up. One thing led to another, and we were invited to dinner at Amy’s home.
I knew in my heart it would be great. Amy was the first friend I made when I moved to Washington over 20 years ago. We worked together for a time and then stayed connected as we both got married and had our first children. Then she and her family moved, and while we remained committed Christmas card exchangers, we had not been in touch frequently. Yet the few times we did connect, it was like old times. There was never any weirdness or blame over who was supposed to call whom. We were just two forever friends picking up where we left off.
Excitement built for me as we drove to Amy’s home. Her family greeted us at the door. We got to hug each other and meet the youngest kids who have come along since last we visited. It was surreal. While my family had seen people in the past eighteen months, this was the first time we all went to dinner together inside someone’s home. I was overwhelmed by how good it felt to receive deep hospitality again, to be invited into someone’s intimate living space, offered a home cooked meal, and made to feel so welcomed and loved. It was like waking up out of a dream. And the best part was our kids all got along splendidly.
After several hours we took our leave, armed with recommendations of things to do on the rest of our vacation. Over the next few days, Amy checked in to see how it was going and if we needed anything else. Her care rippled forward. As I reflect back on this simple dinner, I am flooded with gratitude. It is more than the fact that Amy and her family showed us a wonderful time. This interaction helped me re-engage in the world. Amy was like guide welcoming me back to life. She reminded me of the importance of connecting after so long apart, and I am trying to pay it forward as each day leads us to the next phase of this uncertain future.
What has the pandemic been like for you? Are you able to have social gatherings in your part of the world?