My close friends are not very close. I live in New York. Dawn lives in Georgia, and Carolyn lives in Florida. We all grew up together in Miami. When Dawn and I moved away, we promised Carolyn that we would meet up once a year. We've kept that promise for the past two decades, and then the coronavirus showed up. We had to cancel our trip. I'm sure we're the only ones affected by this pandemic and feeling disappointed. We've all had to realize that we can't predict our future no matter how hard we try.
Carolyn had just retired from her job of thirty-nine years. She already had in place a whole new lifestyle of trips, reunions, and fitness. Her routine was going to include being involved in her community and meeting people. Instead, she found herself alone and in quarantine. The three of us have always talked together at least once a week. Dawn and I knew our friend was falling into a deep depression.
A couple of weeks ago, Dawn was furloughed from her job. She told us that she is making it a point to get herself outside for a walk every morning. She said, "I have an idea. Why don't you guys put on your sneakers and go with me at 7:30 in the morning? We can talk and walk together on the phone."
One of the best things with friends is that we always can find something to talk about. We describe the landscape, people, and animals we see along our different routes. Before we know it, we've walked longer than any of us intended to. We get engaged in our conversations that our exercise comes easily. We make each other laugh either going down memory lane or what silliness we'll get into when we can finally be together. We accuse each other of using sound effects to mimic being outside. I have a soundtrack of honking horns, barking dogs, and an occasional bird. Hey, sometimes it's hard to separate me from my pillow.
A pleasant side effect of our walks and talks is hearing Carolyn sound like her old bubbly self. She confided that knowing we were expecting her to be with us on the phone gave her a reason to get out of bed. She didn't feel so alone and felt inspired to find more to do for herself. We all agreed that our anxiety and stress had lessened. Getting fresh air and having something to smile about has done us all a lot of good.
This pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down. The uncertainty of what will happen next has put us on edge. We're learning more and more that we only have this moment, this hour and this day. I'm reaching out to family and friends regularly. I want to encourage everyone to take some time outside and feel the sun. If you start to find yourself feeling alone and anxious, call a friend. We need each other, and we need to be there for each other.
When you don't feel like going out, and your friends expect you to do a virtual walk, I have some tips. First, turn the sound off the tv. Second, make sure your outside sounds are realistic. I throw in a few sirens and construction noise. Last, try not to enjoy your cocktail too loudly. If they do hear you slurp, tell them it's a green smoothie. Stay safe and healthy.