Where did all your friends go?

Where did all your friends go?

One of my friends asked me what happened to DB, Katy and Toseland. And as it turns out, it’s a good lead in to a post I’ve been trying to write for a while. Because the answer is a little more complex than it would otherwise seem.

where did allo your friends go
Aldred Family and Friends Picnic c. 1900 – 1910, via State Library Victoria
The Aldreds it seems were prolific picnicers – many of them on record at the library…

I live in Melbourne – once famous for being the world’s most liveable city seven times in a row, now famous for being the most lockeddown City, enduring six Covid lockdowns over 262 cumulative days.

Covid Normal

That’s 262 days unable to travel more than 5 km from home.

Only permitted to leave home to shop, for exercise, to give or recieve care, or to go to work if you weren’t lucky enough to be able to work at home.

Given I work from home, day-to-day, there wasn’t a great deal that changed for me. My husband (DB) was classed as an essential worker, so nothing much changed for him either.

But outside of the normal day-to-day, everything changed. There was no:

  • Eating out.
  • Meeting friends.
  • Visiting other people’s homes.
  • Going out at night.

Some people did arrange to just happen to be at the supermarket or takeout counter at the same time.

And some people did arrange to just happen to be exercising at the same places at the same time.

Others took the risk and met up without plausible excuses in each other’s homes. And some of those paid penalties for that – in fines for breaking Public Health Orders and in illness.

So, where did all my friends go?

My local (Melbourne) friends live more than 5 km from me, and usually, we meet in the middle. In the City for lunch when I’m there.

Which I haven’t been.

And neither have they, because they’re all working from home.

So for the most part, aside from the odd email, I haven’t really seen anyone for about 18 months. Aside from a bunch of medical people for this, that and the other.

And having got out of the habit of meeting people, I’ve got out of the habit of talking about them here, and needing to protect their privacy, because no one aside from the emailer knows about our conversations.

Post-Covid Normal?

A while back, when I was planning the virtue of friendship, I mentioned that while there might be about 150 people you call friends (based on a mutually beneficial relationship), there’s only about 15 you rely on. And they’re usually proximate.

But friendships only last so long as they continue to be mutually beneficial, which is why your work friendships rarely survive for long when you move on.

And why you might find something similar when you return to work – that those who were there all along have formed closer bonds through shared tribulation, while those who were working from home may be excluded for a while. It’s not personal, it’s habit.

So, to get those friendships back to where we left off, we have to work at them.

We have to get in touch, and make plans. To find new places to meet in the middle.

Try to get over ourselves and our distate for:

  • Enclosed spaces, like restaurants.
  • Groups of more than two or four people.
  • Letting people come closer than 1.5m apart.
  • Especially those not wearing masks.

So it’s been a good reminder for me. And maybe you.

Both for arranging lunches, and about perserving my friends privacy!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.