Whispering Is Dangerous In A Pandemic

"Whispers..." by Flickr user micadew, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I miss visiting friends.

Yes, I can visit friends in a socially distanced way. I occasionally have lunch with a co-worker outside, sitting 10 feet apart. Or take a socially distanced walk with a friend. I am grateful for the outdoors and the mild winter weather in Houston.

I miss the hushed conversations. I miss telling a barely audible story and then letting out a loud laugh. Phone calls or Zoom meetings aren’t the same. I miss sitting close to somebody, and the intimacy that makes space for a secret.

Earlier in the pandemic, I remember posting on social media something about how I was ready for mask wearing because I am naturally loud. I have trouble keeping my voice down, unless it’s in a professional setting (I have trained my voice well). A mask and a filter are no match for my voice. 11 months in, however, and I miss whispering to others, saying things under my breath where only the person next to me can hear.

The first few months of the pandemic, my boyfriend and I religiously practiced social distancing. During that time I remember missing his voice. We sat outside, and had dinner with six feet between us. We spoke plenty. But I missed curling up next to him, and hearing his deep voice spread through his chest cavity and vibrate in my ears. I missed feeling his voice. (We have since gone back to spending time together and breathing in the same room.)

On the other hand, I have lived most of my adult life away from my parents. I moved out of the house when I was 18. At this point I am used to what it feels like to miss being in their proximity. I remember the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and not hearing from them for weeks. I am used to calling them, videochatting, checking in almost daily. There are pictures, links, Facebook updates, videos…It’s weird how being an adult has prepared me for relationships in a pandemic.

The ironic thing about all of this is that when they moved to Florida in 2019, I was so excited to be able to visit them more often. After I had my daughter, I couldn’t visit them in Puerto Rico as often as I used to when I was a college student. Maybe once every couple of years. In 2019 I visited them twice in their new home. And then the pandemic rolled in.

I haven’t seen then since November 2019. It’s a little cruel, to be honest.

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