Family Encounters During a Global Pandemic

“Just drop it off at the table.”

From an outsider’s perspective, it may have looked like I was engaging in illicit activity. Standing on my cousin Adrienne’s front porch, she cracked the window open just a little and gave me the instructions to drop off the Ziploc bag of Nintendo Switch games I brought for them to borrow. I put down the stash of games and picked up the container of soup she made for me as part of this trade. Backing away about 12 feet, she and her 3-year old son Kai opened the door and yelled, “Thank you!” I got back in the car and left.

For family as close as they are, the distance felt really weird. But I get it. If anything, Steff and I probably shouldn’t have made the trip at all. Maybe just mail the games over instead. At the rate things are locking down due to the global pandemic, this is probably the last “personal” trip we make anytime soon.

Though I feel like I’ve adjusted fairly well to staying home, I do miss my family. Normally when we get together with Adrienne and Kai, it’s part of a larger family gathering where we all have dinner, catch up on life, and play one large game that everyone can participate in. Seeing them on that day through the window for just a moment felt so cold.

For Steff’s family, we regularly get together on the weekend for dinner. Recently, we hosted a Zoom conference instead. Was great to see everyone again and chat, but it’s not the same as when we’re all sharing a great meal while sitting across from one another at the table.

My mom came by the other day. Dropping off a bag with a pack of Lysol wipes and frozen sausages, she rang the doorbell and hung the bag on the handle. When I opened the door, she was standing on the other end of the walkway. I said thanks, we waved at each other, and she was off in a matter of seconds. Really bummed me out that we couldn’t have had a longer conversation or at least given her a hug.

For the time being, this is the new normal. We’re all supposed to keep our distance in order to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. But I do miss my family. I should do more to stay connected.

When I got back from the “illicit deal”, my cousin Adrienne told me to give her a FaceTime call. She pointed the camera at Kai – who was over the moon – tightly gripping the cases of the games I lent them, including Super Mario Odyssey and Yoshi’s Crafted World. He was staring intently at his dad running around as Mario, who had just transformed into a T-Rex. Maybe I should have just mailed the games over, but I’m glad that he’s got a lot more to play as we’re all cooped up in our homes for the foreseeable future.

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