2020 was the year of not touching.
For some of us who live alone, it wasn’t that much different. Personally I used to get a hug about 3x a year from friends, but I was free to hug my patients on occasion. But knowing hugs were forbidden … was still hard.
The thing I miss the most about “normalcy“ is seeing people smile, and, more importantly, sending smiles. I’m naturally shy around strangers, naturally fearful of people in general, so I chose carefully who I smiled at in public. Having lost that ability really is isolating. Not only was it a social grace, but for me it was a tiny way to share joy and acceptance. I loved smiling at store clerks or homeless people or the trans person, the children, the elderly, the single mothers. It was a way of encouraging people silently and sending love. So to me, 2020 was a loss of the smile. Pretty harsh.
I only hugged a friend twice – once for food he brought me and once for a Christmas gift. And I hugged my sister twice, as she cried over her husband’s sudden death. That’s no way to live, to feel grief during a hug, or guilt and fear afterwards.
I think the world has become too separated as it is, with families moving far away, people in cities isolated and swallowed into anonymity. Adding Covid and removing gatherings just made it 100x worse. As well as the huge political divide, racial divide. I think we need to love & accept each other more, not less. I think the way to learn to accept other people different than ourselves is to be exposed to, and listen to, more people.
Travel helps that enormously, but even when we can’t afford to travel, we can connect with a variety of people if we live in a city. I miss smiles, restaurants, and, oh my stars, the movies! I’d say I miss the symphony and live theater too, but I haven’t had money to attend in the last decade.
Anyhow. That’s my take on 2020.