In Other Words: Friendships are the emotional glue during the pandemic

Zoom has made us all geographically desirable. All we need to do is tune in, and family and friends are delivered to us without the burden of travel. What was missing, though, were the hugs. But hey, you can’t have it all — not during a pandemic — and so we adjusted to a “new abnormal norm,” and for a while, it wasn’t too bad. But now, fully loaded with two shots in our arms, the trajectory changed. We are now slowly being released from the confines of solitude, and let me just say, “EEEEK!”

As we loosen our grip, and with some trepidation, we are crossing over to the lighter side as we prepare for re-entry into the world. With that comes reflection. My thoughts turn to friendship and the special people who have helped in getting me through this apocalyptic year. As the vaccines liberated us, I find my special friends are the emotional glue that kept me going. And so, once again, Seena comes to mind.

My friend Seena, about whom I occasionally write, once lived in Connecticut, but moved to New York City years ago where she now permanently resides. Seena provides much column fodder, as I am always intrigued by her daily romps through the city, and the stories she collects en route to each adventure.

Wherever Seena lives she leads a charmed life, not to say she hasn’t suffered adversities. She lost her husband just over a year ago, and so the once “dynamic duo” is now one dynamic lady who knows how to squeeze a lifetime into a day.

I, her sequestered Connecticut friend, have enjoyed hearing about Seena’s escapades. Not only are they amusing and riveting, but they serve as reminders that nothing — not even a pandemic — can quell her enthusiasm or keep her from her daily rounds.

This morning, Seena called to relay another brief encounter. Encounters for Seena are easy to come by and hard to resist, because whatever happens — even if she is just ordering a dozen bagels at Zabar’s — becomes a brief treasure trove of events begging to be dissected. Not only is Seena a seasoned raconteur, but her tales brim over with just the right amount of glitz and glam.

To say I live vicariously through my friend might be a slight exaggeration. After all, I do take credit for “having a life,” but hearing about hers does decidedly add a glow to my day.

Here’s how a typical Seena story begins: “You won’t believe what just happened.” Or, “You’ll never guess what I just saw.” Or, “Wait ’til you hear this.” And what she saw or heard is always something special, outlandish, or astonishing, in that each anecdote is so brightly adorned that even an ordinary day can become an illuminating mini-series.

I love that about my friend, and what she might not know, is her style, her delivery, her stories have made my own pandemic life that much more interesting and entertaining. Her bons mots are as original as she is.

Although we are two different dames, we also have lots in common. Seena and I can talk movies like nobody else, and once the world was deemed safe to trespass, she hit a cinema with gusto, reporting that she was the only person in the theater. While I am still fearful of traipsing through a grocery aisle, Seena reminds me we have one life to live, and that the one life of hers is going to be spent in high heels and haute couture, or perhaps, relaxing in a caftan on a veranda in the Berkshires, or having mineral water served in a champagne glass at some swank hotel.

The point of all of this is that Seena has taught me a thing or two. She is a constant reminder that each day matters, and while the pandemic life has been interpreted each in our own ways, Seena’s way is always guaranteed to cast a delightful spell over me.

“Are you coming up for air yet?” she wants to know. “I can take a train up to Westport and we can meet for lunch.”

“Al fresco?” I ask.

And she laughs knowing what a wimp I am, and how I am still operating under some version of protective covering.

Masks are important. Being prudent still matters. The Delta variant is no joke. We are not quite over the post-COVID trauma, which has taken over our lives in such personal ways. As we move slowly toward re-entry, we have a sense that it’s going to be all right, after all, and though the variants might be with us for a while, it’s always more tolerable, more fun and more exciting to have a friend in our lives like my pal Seena, for whom getting up in the morning is in itself a celebratory occasion. And, now that there’s a new grandson in the picture, you can only imagine!

Westporter Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views monthly in the Westport News. She can be reached via email at joodth@snet.net or at judithmarks-white.com.