Community//

Staying Close with Loved Ones Six Feet Apart

Intimacy, Connectedness and Coronavirus

“It’s ironic that as the pandemic forces us into our separate corners, it’s also showing us how intricately we are all connected.” 

– David Byrne

Jeremy Cohen dating in Brooklyn in a bubble…

I bring my husband tea in the morning; I put the cup down at the top of the stairs, then sit down on the landing, about 7 feet down from the top.  My husband waits til I’m seated, then comes to collect his tea, and sits at the top of the stairs to drink it.  Thus begins our morning routine, our time to reconnect after he has slept upstairs in our room, while I sleep downstairs in our son’s room.  My husband returned from Asia a few days ago, and is now in ‘quarantine’.  He uses only one door in the house to go outside, which I do not use, and I bleach the handle after he uses it; I keep his dishes separate, use a bucket and hot water and a bit of bleach to wash them; he does not enter the kitchen at all.  He is taking his temperature every morning and evening and paying attention to any possible symptoms, as was recommended by the health clinic here.  This is our routine for the two-week quarantine.

Connecting on stairs…

We live in New Zealand where our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is doing an incredible job. According to the Washington Post, she and the NZ government aren’t just flattening the curve, they are squashing it.  Here in NZ, the vast majority of us are accepting the new norm and respecting the lockdown requirements here.  But even during, especially during, this lockdown, staying connected is essential.

David Byrne, singer, songwriter, filmmaker and lead singer and founding member of the Talking Heads, has written a beautiful piece about our connectedness in his online journal: Reasons to Be Cheerful:

The World Is Changing — So Can We

The pandemic is revealing the many ways our lives intersect. Is this an opportunity for us to reimagine what we can be? It’s showing us just how tenuous our existence becomes when we try to abandon those connections and distance from one another.

So with this new forced isolation and distance, how do we maintain our intimacy, and hold on to these feelings of connectedness that are so essential? 

Even though my husband and I cannot touch, cannot even be in close physical proximity, we have created new routines, like our stairway talks to maintain our closeness. I have completely come to rely on Zoom and other video conferencing platforms.  A simple phone call is not enough for me these days.  I have a need to see friend’s faces.  I message my sons more often.  We ‘Hang Out’ and video chat on a more regular basis.  Neighbors are checking in on each other more often – by phone, at the end of their drive or on walks (keeping their physical distance of course).   It is widely accepted that this connection with one another is absolutely necessary for one’s well being.

I am seeing more and more articles about how to stay connected with friends and family during this challenging time. 

Radio New Zealand featured an article about staying connected while in isolation with the help of technology; The United Way released guidelines about staying connected during Covid-19; and in The Atlantic recently, there was an article with suggestions on The Art of Socializing During Quarantine. Writer Joe Pinsker has a few suggestions:

  • KEEP DINING AND DRINKING ‘TOGETHER’
  • REACH OUT TO FRIENDS NEAR AND FAR
  • USE A VARIETY OF MEDIA
  • SUPPORT OTHERS (OR JUST LET THEM KNOW YOU’RE AVAILABLE)
  • CONNECT WITH THE PEOPLE IN YOUR OWN HOME (*even if it is 6 feet apart)

I am definitely prioritizing connection these days.  I see this connection as vital to my health and wellbeing. I am using this isolating time as an opportunity to stay connected.  Byrne describes it like this:

What is happening now is an opportunity to learn how to change our behavior. For many of us, our belief in the value of the collective good has eroded in recent decades. But in an emergency that can change quickly.  In emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behavior accordingly. 

Staying Connected…

We are connected, no matter the physical distance between us.  Let’s all nurture this connectedness and use this extraordinary time to strengthen the bonds between us.

Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
― Brené Brown

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