I miss my friends.

I won’t go into all the far more significant and terrifying aspects of this pandemic – others are covering that and have far better thoughts to contribute.

But in the hope of helping others, even a tiny bit, I will post this to say that we tried a virtual happy hour tonight and it helped. A lot.

Before COVID-19, five of us met every two to three weeks just to catch up over a glass of wine and a few snacks. Those happy hours were (as I’m learning about so many things) both completely mundane and yet intensely meaningful. Our conversation revolved around petty annoyances of work, antics of family members, everyday worries, and silly jokes. Nothing significant, and yet the essence of friendship and, really, of humanity. To speak our most ordinary and yet worrying thoughts and be met with understanding and sympathy, kindness and laughter – each happy hour was a balm and a blessing. Appreciated, to be sure, even before the pandemic – after all, we made the time for each other even when time was in short supply. But now, when meetings are impossible, those times seem like gold.

So…tonight, some of us met in a virtual happy hour. A video chat. (We chose Google Hangouts because not all of us have the same devices, but there are many free and easy options out there.) It worked wonderfully. We had to change the pace of our conversations slightly – there was no lag to speak of, but talking over each other or speaking simultaneously was not as easy. But overall, we got to be there for each other. Got to see expressions, got to hear each other’s voices. Got to drink a glass of wine together, even if our toast was simply raising a glass to the camera.

Give it a try. I won’t pretend a video call is as good as meeting in person. But it’s better than not meeting at all. Be there for your friends, share your stories and your worries. Commiserate, console, communicate. The call is virtual, the rewards are real.

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