I saw my toiletry bag hanging up in the bathroom and I thought, “I should put that away. I’m not going anywhere for a while”. That really struck me. I love travel and really enjoy the travel I do for work. I have a large national (international actually) network of friends and colleagues. I would travel about 4 to 6 times a year for work to conferences mostly. At each of these conferences, there is a circle of people who I have known for 10 to 20 years. Some, I don’t know so well that I would set up a call just to chat with them. Others, I really should reach out to see how they are doing.
This virtual world doesn’t allow for the random reconnections while walking the hallways of EDUCAUSE with 8,000 other people. It doesn’t let me look across the room at CSG and see Jenn and have a bit of an “Oh boy, Jenn is here” leap of heart or Ron, or Klara or any of a dozen other people.
Yes, there are people I’m really close to whom I am trying to stay in touch with. We have virtual dinners with friends and family (not as much as we should). There are others, the next circle out, with whom I chat or email. But there is a whole world of people, one-step further out, that I used to travel with and see at least once a year who now seem out of reach.
Seeing my toiletry bag and thinking that I might not need it for another 18 months really pressed upon the loss of that circle of connection in this pandemic. The loss of those crowds and travel, the random connections, the chance encounters with a charming and funny person in the airport, the people who are the next circle out of your acquaintances, with whom you always enjoyed your hallway catch-up, some of whom always took you back to another point in your life and great memories from then. This is what my toiletry bag makes me think about. This is the loss that strikes me.
Stay well. Reach out and chat someone. We’re all in this together.