So, since our home became empty of visitors, I’ve started using my phone and computer much more often: every week, I have a video-call with my friend Ellen to chat and sing, and sometimes another friend from the synagogue joins us; on Saturday evenings, some of us get together on Zoom to sing Havdalah (and take the opportunity to catch up); on Tuesdays at 1:30 I have a weekly video-call with my cousin who lives in Britain (with whom I used to play when I was a child), and at 3:30, with a synagogue friend (she’s an example of the synagogue members who became friends about whom I write in another chapter); and every few months I talk on the phone with grad school friends who live too far away to visit (the epidemic has made it impossible to spend the night).
The last ones are “phone visits,” as my grandmother used to call her long phone conversations with her friends. Besides these, I talk every day through WhatsApp with my mother in Argentina, and almost every day with my brothers and sisters-in-law; I talk once a week with other close friends (an example of new friendships that deepened, which I mention in another chapter); we have a meeting with my brothers and their families and my mother on Zoom on someone’s birthday or to celebrate a holiday, be it Jewish or conventional; and we have an extended family meeting on Zoom (all of the cousins, their spouses, and our parents) to celebrate holidays or just to meet and chat.
I have plenty of ways to share my life with friends and family: exchanging news, venting, singing, practicing Hebrew, seeing familiar faces, communicating often with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I am closer to beloved people who can’t visit for various reasons, COVID and the quarantine among them. I have plenty of ways to keep friendships alive. So, although the house and deck are empty, I feel they’re always full.