The Meals on Wheels client I wrote about recently, the one who is quickly becoming my biggest flirt, has quite a spitfire for a neighbor. She is a spunky little woman, standing maybe five feet tall, but with more energy than that drum-weilding bunny. I’ve met her on a couple of occasions, both times when my client wasn’t answering and she jumped in to help.
The first time, she was out sweeping her porch when I arrived. She knew he was out for a walk and sauntered into his apartment like she owned the place, putting the food away for him. I was a little taken aback because I knew he had just recently moved in, so I wondered if he would appreciate her take-charge attitude.
Last Friday, after hearing me knock and announce myself several times, she stuck her head out from her door across the hall. “You can’t get him?”, she called out, rushing over before I could even respond. She arrived by my side at the same time he groggily answered the door, and the funniest conversation ensued.
“You just grab me if you ever need to - I can get him going!” and put up her dukes in his face. Still struggling to figure out what was happening, my client just rubbed his eyes. I said “well, I guess we caught him napping”. I handed him the food and backed into the courtyard area between their units. “I’m tough!”, she cried, and raised her twig-like arms as if to show off biceps. Whether she’s sweet on him or he’s like the brother she never had (or maybe at their age has lost), I was touched by the friendly banter between new friends.
My circle is by design. I foster connections because I understand their importance. I’ve been the one who isolates because I don’t want to be a burden. I’ve been the one who drank alone at a bar full of people. I’ve been the one who thought nobody wanted to see my scars. Today, I am a caring shoulder because I know people need one in return. I make new friends and keep the old, words I learned with one of my very first tribes: my Girl Scout troop.
I am a huge proponent of support systems and community, and I only have to look as far as my interests to find them. Where I used to seek out drinking buddies, I now seek solace from sober collectives. I’m on a year-long journey with my yoga community and we share both vulnerable and courageous moments in our online studio. I am collaborating with creative friends (including my very own spitfire neighbor) whose connection runs deeper than just the products we sell.
Five months into the pandemic, it is hard some days not to feel alone. In reality, I know I am not. I get to have more interaction with the outside world than some of my most at-risk friends. I have a significant other, which means I’m rarely in an empty house, at least not for any long stretches of time.
It doesn’t mean I don’t miss hugging as a form of greeting.
It doesn’t mean I don’t miss lunch dates for long overdue catch-up sessions.
It doesn’t mean I don’t miss holding the hand of a friend in need.
A line kept running through my mind this morning: “I got it, I got it, I got it...I don’t got it”. I couldn’t place the movie, but a little research revealed it was Mel Brooks’ “High Anxiety” where this gag first appeared. Given that Brooks’ movie was released when I was 3 years old, I’m more likely remembering a scene from “The Goonies”. The context with Chunk was completely different, but the sentiment is the same.
There are plenty of days where I got it. There are occasionally ones where I don’t. I will never put on a brave face at the expense of an aching heart. On those days, I am fortunate to have such a loving and kind support system from all walks of life. On those days, I’m grateful I am brave enough to reach out.
"Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much." -Helen Keller