This past week, I was part of two separate women only gatherings. One, a dinner at a friend’s home where we hugged warmly on arrival and sat around in her family room catching up on family, kids and life. The mood was quiet, comfortable and intimate.
We ate at the dining table trading compliments, holding space for daughters worried about ailing parents and understanding the immigrant angst of long distance caregiving. The night was short and sweet with most of us leaving before 9:00 pm.
The other gathering was a holiday party with a group of loud, boisterous and jolly women. Each showed off fancy shoes and reveled in the opportunity to dress up and get out of the house for a few hours. The table was laden with gift wrapped packages. The kitchen table groaned with an assortment of boards. Cookies, fruits, cheese, vegetables and dip, flatbreads and, lots of flowing wine.
The conversation was easy and the hugs were tight and long. We again, held space for losses and milestones. There was laughter and tears. I left late and slept almost immediately.
In the days following both events, I was struck by how much I craved the human touch, the circle of women friendship where silences mean as much as words, where a pat on the shoulder, a lingering press on the forearm, a tight hug pours into it a lot more than what words can say.
The Pandemic has taken much from us, a lot of which cannot be articulated until we have had a chance to experience the changes and acknowledge what has changed irrevocably. The damage to the psyche, the awkwardness at initiating contact, the nervousness before going, it all seems strange. It feels that way because the landscape we are navigating is alien. The tinge of hesitance before hugging people, the worry if someone coughs or sneezes, it all hits differently.
One thing in common though, is that both get-togethers left me craving for more. Two years is a long time to be starved of company and conversation, of listening and being listened to, to acknowledge and be acknowledged, to love and be loved in turn.