Today the island is celebrating! It is my wife’s birthday.
I have been blessed beyond measure to share my isolation with another soul. Having a person to talk to, dine with, even sing to has been an important part of my relative contentment. My heart weeps for those of us who might be alone in this time. Be strong, if you can, my friends and don’t be afraid to call out for help.
My son is a student in Chicago and is doing a solo lockdown. He lives in a cozy efficiency studio near his now shuttered grad school and ventures out only for supplies. He is alone in the physical space, but he has a whole panoply of internet interests and friends. He is hosting role-playing games, moderating a Pokemon bracket (for real!), playing hours of online Animal Crossing and, oh yeah, doing some work on the art that is his actual occupation.
I asked him if he felt if his online experience growing up has been an advantage during this time of confinement. Remember, at age twenty-six, he is a part of the generation that first saw the internet (and video games) as their playground. He agreed that he and his friends feel uniquely prepared for this kind of shutdown because of their comfort and facility with the online world. Online learning, while cumbersome, is not a novel thing for his generation. Distant friendships, video conferences and intimate virtual chats are all part of his realm of knowledge.
While we are struggling to get our audio and video to turn on in Zoom, my son and his friends are out there creating whole worlds of communication. When he was younger, we scoffed or cajoled – get off the computer, go play ball or something. But as he puts it now, “It’s a bad time to be a swimmer.” When there is no ball to be played, it is nice to be able to reach out for virtual companionship.
So happy birthday, Julia my love. A little later on, we’ll treat ourselves by bumbling our way into our son’s online world for a much-needed albeit virtual visit.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]