When the World Opens Up Again, Will I Have Any Friends Left?
As vaccinations roll out, my concerns about the pandemic have gradually started to ease. For the first time, I can imagine a world in which we can go to concerts again and throw parties and sip on draft beers in crowded bars. Man, I miss draft beer.
But as my pandemic anxiety has started to subside, another question has risen up in me, involuntarily like a tablespoon of bile creeping up my throat.
Do I still have friends?
It wasn’t an important question to consider for most of the pandemic. When I was locked down at home, I was concerned about finding a new job after being laid off, visiting the grocery store during off-peak hours, checking in on elderly relatives, and wondering if every little tickle in my throat was a sign that the virus was incubating in my body.
That anxiety isn’t entirely gone, but it’s receding. And in its wake, apparently my regular brand of neurotic thoughts has returned. Joy.
The thing about Covid is that it was great for keeping up close friendships — you know, your small handful of ride-or-dies who would help you bury a body and also maybe even help you move. Together, we engaged in “Zoom drinks” even though it was nothing like getting drinks in real life and attempted to watch tv shows in tandem despite ongoing technical difficulties.
However, the pandemic was terrible for casual friendships. You know the ones. The co-worker you occasionally grabbed drinks with after work, the friend of a friend you met at a party one time, your intramural sports league friends, your yoga class acquaintances.
During the lockdowns, suddenly there were no bars or parties or yoga classes. The result? We lost touch with those people.
I’m not the only one who experienced this, right? Much like the struggling economy, our social circles suffered an abrupt contraction during Covid as we stopped keeping up with casual friends and acquaintances. We didn’t keep those up those relationships during the pandemic because they didn’t feel important. And anyway, what could you even say if you reached out…