Dispatch: Pandemic Friendships

I know it has been often said, but does anyone else feel the loss of friendships we developed over the pandemic? Being forced to stay at home helped me reach out and create new relationships with people all over the country and the world because of the pandemic. Still, as life ash returned to normal, these relationships have seriously fallen off. This is particularly true with a podcast community I recently left behind and whose founding podcast has also ended.

Over the two years of the pandemic, we talked, shared, met up (safely) and spent evenings together over Zoom. We shared out time and our talents. We went through a difficult time in life together. Now I often only see these people on social media. I am reminded of how much I miss them. Somehow I miss those late-night, weekend Zoom meetings. I miss hanging out in the coolest bar ever with people I liked being around, where the alcohol was free-flowing and priced right. I’ve never been able to replicate in life (especially in the Seattle area) the sense of camaraderie and pleasant feeling I experienced in various digital events I attended over the pandemic. I met tons of people I would have never met. I joined the best book club I had ever participated in.

I suppose, like so many things in life, all good things must come to an end. Not everything is forever. As the world opened up, we went back to the lives that we had in 2019. We re-engaged with our friends in our local area. We finally shut off Zoom and began going to bars and restaurants again, even tentatively. People were eager to get back to normal or at least engage in whatever normal meant now in 2022. However, have we lost something in our rush to return to normal? I feel like those connections we made and were forced to make over distance and through screens have faltered, possibly never returning. After two years, it’s hard to get any traction for returning to attending things over Zoom.

Today I’m reflective of the past years of the pandemic. On Twitter, I see two camps in my feed. The first camp is decrying the lack of a response given rising cases and the lack of mask mandates. Still, others are talking about Pfizer’s admission that they never tested the vaccine for transmission. It was no surprise that vaccines didn’t prevent the Omicron wave or the subsequent variants. However, this stands in contradiction to the messaging around vaccines. The government has failed to message about the pandemic since the beginning. Now, people are on Twitter apologizing to the anti-vax crowd about their strong stance on the vaccine. First, the vaccine would save lives, and now it appears it will only save people from severe disease. For many of us, like myself, this has been true. That is now how the vaccine was billed, and perception is reality.

So now we have people hiding in their homes until “it is safe to go outside.” And people who feel justified that the only people who had to worry about the pandemic were the elderly and obese. People are dying of sudden death who might not have otherwise. The pandemic has fallen off the headlines, and with it, America’s tolerance for measures to ensure its end. Covid-19 will be with us for some time. The sudden heart attacks and strokes possibly linked to Covid infection aren’t making the headlines that they should. I wonder if they ever will.

It has been a long 2, nearly three years since Covid-19 was introduced into our lives. Society has changed. Nothing is the same, even though it seems like everything should be the same. I’m reminded of a thread I read on Reddit in 2020 about what people would have done over the summer of 2020 instead of listlessly sitting at home. It was several thousand comments long threads of cancelled weddings, vacations, and careers. It was all gone in the blink of an eye, replaced with Zoom hangouts and new connections forged thanks to the internet.

I suppose it is unfair to hope that things would remain as they were in that halcyon time. It was a unique period of history that I doubt we will ever live to see again. But I miss my pandemic friends. I wonder what they are doing. I sent out texts and made social media posts/replies, but I didn’t hear much back. I miss it; I do miss it. My life hasn’t very much returned to its pre-pandemic normal quite yet. It has to some degree. I attended an in-person conference this year, and I went on another long trip where I met new people in new locations. But I do feel like my social life has taken a backseat to it all. Here’s to the friends we met, the times we had, and memories of the pandemic.

Cast Iron (a Novel) by Cameron Cowan

When Randy Carruth starts a new life with his sister, mother, and new husband, he never anticipates that this new life could be dangerous and even deadly. Cast Iron explores what happens to a young man lost in the prison system and lost in the world on a journey of forgiveness.

Cast Iron is the story of Randy Carruth, who discovers that his new step-father is not what he seems. He tolerates it for a time, believing that he can do nothing. One day, when he discovers his sister being attacked, he makes a fateful decision that sends him to jail. After being released, Randy enters a world of drugs and male prostitution. Will he ever find his way home? Can he find forgiveness for those that have wronged him and broken his heart?

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