The process of returning to a semblance of a normal routine has highlighted for me a casualty of the pandemic; friendships. I am not referring to my several closest friendships. Those have remained vibrant, pandemic notwithstanding. I am referring to the many casual friendships I have formed over the years. The friendships made through shared interests, regular interactions, professional, communal activities and events. The people you meet at the gym, the local restaurant owner, the court reporter, professional colleagues. Friendships, more casual in nature, but nonetheless important for they contribute to the fabric and quality of one’s daily life. The last three months of shelter in place have interrupted these friendships. My return has highlighted the loss of these relationships and I now realize that the pandemic will likely fundamentally disrupt many of these casual friendships.
Take for example my synagogue friends. For years, I have attended the same daily early morning minyan (prayer service) along with other regular worshipers. The attendees are a diverse group. Some are young. Some are old. Some are middle aged. Some are elderly. There are college students and retirees, lawyers and bureaucrats, doctors and taxi cab drivers, engineers and construction workers. There is a camaraderie among the regulars, an esprit de corps. My years of regular attendance have enabled me to form “transaction based” friendships with a good number of the regular worshipers. Enter Covid-19. Three months of a shuttered synagogue and I embarrassed to say that many of these friends have fallen of my radar. It was not until my return last week that I realized just how many of these casual friends were “out of sight out of mind” due to the pandemic.
Unfortunately, some of these friendships will remain disrupted. The pandemic has changed routines and greatly restricted freedom of activity. Hence, it is adversely impacting relationships. The longer the pandemic lasts the more relationships and friendships will be disrupted. Another insidious effect of Covid-19.