It's been nearly a month, but here we go.
Has Covid changed your understanding of friendship?
Not exactly. Maybe it was a little different for me since I haven’t lived near some of my closest friends for a few years already. We were already used to catching up over the phone or video call. With in-person socializing extremely limited (because I’m now living at home again and don’t want my parents to get sick), I tend to call them more often than I used to, and it feels like each of those conversations are more helpful from an ‘improving my level of happiness’ perspective than they used to be. The friends who were already on the periphery, who I didn't make regular plans with or who I only saw regularly in a specific in-person context, have drifted away.
I still hang out with some of my former college roommates in much the same way that we used to, but instead of playing video games in the living room or chatting while making dinner in the kitchen we now play together over the internet and talk then.
The differences become apparent in making plans to meet up in person, and the friends with whom I haven’t spoken in a while. In-person plans have mostly dried up. Many of my college friends are now living in other parts of the country. The ones who are here are either also living with their parents or have significant others (meaning their weekends are generally unavailable). I have some friends who are still in college, and I visited them occasionally last year, but with the renewed lockdowns, I haven’t gone back to campus since maybe October. I had plans to visit a friend (via plane) last autumn that I canceled due to work...and now with the new more virulent strain circulating, I’m not sure I’ll be able to see them for a while longer. I doubt the cancellation was really worth it, in the long run. The only solace is that I think (selfishly) I’ll be able to get the vaccine a little sooner, as an essential infrastructure worker.
Then there are the re-connections with people I haven’t talked to in a long time. While only over the phone / video, its been nice to rekindle those friendships. I had some hope of being able to reach an old friend of mine who (for reasons that I truly don’t know / haven’t been able to figure out / don’t understand) ghosted me a few years ago, but even a global pandemic had no effect on that, I’m afraid. I’ve basically moved on from that friendship but it’s tough when they show up in your dreams a few times a year and in your dream you’ve reconnected…
Covid underscored the distinction in social interaction between family, friends, and co-workers. I’ve always been an introvert, but I don’t think I realized until this whole thing went down the importance to me of the everyday things in friendships—the little moments. And despite (or because?) living at home with family right now, I feel an intense isolation.