A Very Welcome ‘Welcome Back’
Hello all, and Happy New Year. Yes, it’s been a while. Now in usual times, a person might say, “I’m happy to be back,” or even, “great to be back.”
This year my feeling is different, not less definitive, but more challenging to pinpoint. It’s one of those times where English seems to come up a bit short and I’m sadly not bilingual enough to have that perfect foreign phrase handy.
This year I find there is a warm embrace in being back. A sense of touch, in a time when touch is hard to come by. It’s a hug-and-a-cup-of-cocoa kind of reassurance that we are all still connected, because that’s what Letters brings—a connection, a community, a reminder that we share our lives with each other. The joy of an old friend returning to brighten our day.
The very first day I visited Rehoboth Beach with the thought to just “drive around and see what’s available for that one day when maybe I would move here,” I met Lana Warfield, who brought me my very first issue of Letters. And over time, she sent me several more issues, just so I could keep up with everyone. Everyone. Not with everything, but with everyone.
And I’ve missed everyone.
Because I have found one of the prices of the pandemic is the loss of our middle. Like many people, I’m fortunate to have a bubble; a small group of friends to see this time through. A socially-distanced dog walk shared, a driveway laugh, a porch BYO everything—including the chair!
I’m also deeply fortunate. I have a family who will take any good reason and opt for a Zoom call celebration, while routinely setting off an ongoing group text of new puppy photos, snow pile comparisons, and successful bake-offs to tap back with love, exclamations, and perfectly-timed jibes. The pinging is an experience!
But I also recognize not everyone is so fortunate. For some, the simple pleasure of a daily conversation—the luxury we took for granted—is gone.
And even those of us with bubbles and baubles, as winter has progressed, find we’ve less to say because last night’s version of chicken thighs is only so fascinating to ourselves, never mind others. It takes us from what once would have been a raucous dinner party to a slowly whittled down 20-minute chat. And now, we’re pared down to 10-minute less-than-thrilling updates.
Our chit chat, our small talk, the casual familiarity of running into a friend and spending a few minutes talking about whatever, has been robbed. Our ability to go downtown and run into the world and head back home fully sated is a distant memory.
The people we know from getting out on a dance floor and nodding as we collide, or toasting at one of our auctions or, well, from just hanging out with Holly at Café Azafrán as she mixes a drink all the while blowing us away with her rendition of “La Vie en Rose”—AGAIN! Those people, the people that form our middle, have been evaporated.
And they matter.
Which is why I’m so glad Letters is back. I believe we are part of that middle. We are a friend, the kind that is casual, for chit and for chat. To speak with us about what is happening in our small corner of this world. To put up photos of our friends having good times so we can share in their bubble and not be left out of it.
It is thought the Roaring Twenties were the answer to the 1918 Spanish Flu. Maybe it was and maybe we will roar again. I don’t know. I do know I’d like to think we’ve learned that all friends, maybe especially the casual ones, keep our lives engaged, well-rounded, and vibrant. And when once again you sit back at that bar, or grab a slice, you will realize that server is as important to your well-being as the person you’re meeting. Just different.
And as Letters returns, sit-read-smile, and then think…is there someone you can leave soup for and a note? Someone who maybe needs to know the middle is still out there….
Be someone’s middle. Help us all get to the end of the tunnel. There’s light there.