We’re on Day 200 what now? I think I stopped counting shortly after Day 100. Clearly, there is really nothing we’re counting down to? I remember during the early weeks of community quarantine, I was so eager to hop on a video call with my barkada, yearning for some sort of connection to them. We had unusually met up several times early this year because one of our friends was home from the US. I was meeting up with some of them for coffee more frequently than usual (thrice in one week!) and even went out of town the weekend before we were all put on lockdown.
Before this, I considered myself a “homebody,” content with the bubble that is my room. Give me an internet connection and food, and I won’t complain. But soon after, I realized how important my social relationships are to me. I like meeting up with friends whether it’s over a good meal at a favorite spot or just hanging out at someone’s place doing nothing particularly special. And now, I don’t even want to leave the house to buy groceries (one of my favorite things to do in the Before Times).
As the months went on, I slowly embraced the privilege of having to work remotely and not have to be on a call constantly like my two brothers, whose virtual meetings I could hear through the walls. I could stay in my pajamas the entire day, leaving my room only to eat. The occasional video call for someone’s birthday gave me an excuse to dress up, put on some makeup, or brush my hair. But even the novelty of that has worn off. I go on video calls with my camera off now.
Earlier this year, my high school batch was supposed to meet up for a boozy (for them, heh) brunch to celebrate our 20th year (!) out of high school. We briefly considered pushing through with it (“is it considered a mass gathering if we’re less than 30?”), but thank goodness we didn’t. Months later, we put together an online chikahan on our FB group. The topic couldn’t be farther from my own reality (homeschooling—I have no child/I’m not married nor do I have a partner, lol) but somehow, it felt good to see familiar faces and see comments from fellow batchmates living here and overseas. Before this, I wouldn’t even have volunteered to be involved for a number of reasons. Now, I find myself thinking of ways to engage my batchmates, banking on nostalgia and the need for connection.
These days, I find myself looking for connections in the stories I read written by people I don’t know personally but somehow I share a similar experience with. I find some strange comfort in the series and movies I’ve been watching, especially those I’ve grown up with and remember watching over and over again. Though I can’t quite replicate the feeling of catching my favorite movie on TV just as it’s about to begin. I can just search and hit play whenever.
A few times a day, I browse through the complaint-ridden neighborhood group I’m in and wonder if I’m the person making a noise above them that they’re constantly ranting about. LOL, I sincerely hope I’m not.
Group chats are mostly echo boxes, with most participants just reacting with a click on the heart beside the message. Sometimes, I end up backreading and just foregoing replying because people have already moved on to a different topic. I find myself chatting in smaller groups or just directly with a single person—even on Instagram DM.
On Monday, I start a new job. I haven’t had a full-time gig in 3 years. In the Before Times, this would mean going into an actual office, seeing people in person, and feeling my way through a new role. But I suppose it’s kind of interesting, too, how I’ll make connections through a screen. For now, let me savor the rest of the week when there are no calls to be made and I can still lounge in pambahay all day long.