Captain’s Log Day Six: The neighbors are friendly and we’re all about to snap.
Most mornings I take my dog and toddler on a walk around the neighborhood. My street is unusually friendly so I’ll get stopped a lot to chat. It’s street made up mostly of transplants and they’ve created their own community that reminds me a lot of a t.v. neighborhood but with more swearing and drinking. But outside of our street it’s not as common for someone to be ultra chatty. Except for today.
I walked by a newly remodeled home that I often admire and though we always see the owners in the yard or on the porch they rarely look up from what they’re doing. But this morning the woman was washing the front window and she paused to smile and enthusiastically wave as if to say, “isn’t this a shit time and I wish we could talk because I’m stuck in here and it’s lonely af.” I eagerly waved back to communicate the same thing. A few houses down a man was reading on his porch and he sat up when he saw me, smiled, and said “Hello!” I said hello back and added, “what a rough year!” And he laughed out loud and added, “Quarantine is something isn’t it?” And we both shook our heads, sharing the moment. Our mail carrier confirmed this. I asked her how her day was so far, as I do on most days, and she said, “Ya know, everyone is so much nicer since the social distancing started. Everyone suddenly wants to talk with me!”
I already knew that historically, in times of crisis, humans tend to band together instead of what you see in movies like the Walking Dead where everyone becomes a psychopath over night. When the twin towers fell, New Yorkers didn’t start attacking each other, they ran into the rubble to help. We are capable of horrible things, but at our core we are social animals and we need each other to survive. It’s built into us just like our hair color or eye color.
I think quarantine is starting to get to all of us, I’m pretty sure my eye is twitching, but we are dealing with it by coming together online and for the community. Everyone is ordering curbside pickup beer and nachos like their lives depend on it, but also like the economic stability of their community depends on it because it does. People are not suspicious or mean. They’re waving enthusiastically through windows and posting motivational memes.
We are handling this the way that humans have always handled war and famine and sickness: By pulling together. During this time of quarantine and fear, we are reminded that the hustle and bustle doesn’t matter. Relationships do. Maybe when all this is over and we can safely see friends and family in person again, we’ll remember how nasty it feels to be isolated from the herd. And we will do better to and for each other from here on out.