The other day I was putting away the laundry I had washed and folded. Sweatshirts, sweaters, t-shirts and cardigans, sweat pants, yoga pants, pajamas, and hoodies. Socks and socks and again some socks, all the comfortable, easy, relaxed clothes that we have been wearing for the past 2 months while in quarantine. There is the odd pair of jeans in the bunch, needed to venture out to the grocery store or other public place but otherwise, the fashion of the past few weeks has been uber casual.
As I was foraging in the closet, I came across my cluster of summer dresses. It was almost as though I had seen them for the first time. The colors, vibrant, the soft cotton and silk, and more dressy styles jumping out at me like I was on an archeological dig. As I touched each garment with wonder, I was transported to the previous summers when I took for granted slipping into a dress to go out to a club or to a party with friends. This was the one I wore in Paris that night; this one for my son’s wedding. I remember the laughter and cold drinks after a hot summer day wearing this one. This beauty was the bargain I found on a shopping trip with my daughter.
I am not sure why rediscovering my summer dresses left me a bit sad and longing for simpler times. It’s not like I think I will never wear them again. But in many ways, they are a reminder of all that we have lost these past weeks in quarantine, specifically the human connection we all crave and need. It’s interesting that we can think that life before COVID 19 was simple. It wasn’t although from my lockdown perspective it seemed so much more innocent. Which just goes to show that you never really know what time of life is innocent until you lose it.
We are social butterflies trapped in our cocoons. It’s wonderful that we can virtually spend time together, talk and laugh, and yes even have drinks together. But my sense of touch has been limited to my little world, my husband, the rooms of my home, the garden outside. I am infinitely grateful that I have more than one room to move through. But I long to touch the bounty the world has to offer. My children. Our friends.
A few months ago I wrote about a television series my husband and I had watched called “See”, which now in retrospect is seriously hitting way to close to our current reality. The series took place centuries after a deadly virus impacted the human race and those who survived lost their ability to see. What I am sorely missing during this pandemic is my ability to touch. I am a hugger by nature, often choosing that as a greeting whenever meeting with my family and close friends. In my husband’s culture, people greet by kissing on both cheeks. Even when we emerge from our cocoons, I fear such greetings will no longer be part of our experience.
The late, great John Prine’s masterful song Angel from Montgomery has a line where the old woman of the song implores the listener to just give her one thing to hold on to. Maybe my summer dresses are the one thing I can hold on to. The fluid cascade of the fabric. The flirty swirl of the skirt brushing my legs. The lightness of the memory. The attitude, as sparkling as a glass of Cava. Music, dancing, and laughter. Touch brings all of that sensory memory back.
Even as I mourn the things I am missing right now, I know that there have always been cataclysmic events in the world. Humans are incredible adapters, surviving centuries of change and war and illness. I know we will need to evolve from this pandemic as well. Maybe less touch would be better for us as a species. Think of all the things we pass on to each other often without even realizing it. And yet, as so many studies have proven, touch is the very thing that allows humans to thrive. I am not willing to give that up. Maybe I have to wait for a vaccine or better medicine but I will always be a hugger.
Maybe tonight I’ll shave my legs and put on that dress and maybe some lipstick, another thing left to dry from lack of use in this time of quarantine. This evening when we turn on our music and open the wine, two things keeping us sane while we shelter, I will twirl in that dress and remind myself that all things must pass and this virus will too. If we are all in. If, as difficult as it is, we stay sheltered in place, listen to the science, and the level heads of some in charge, we could be back to hugging each other again in the near future. How amazing that will feel! I imagine it will be so lovely, something like velvet. And that will be wonderful. Stay well, friends!