• Ellen O'Rourke

Isolation Lessons: 4

Lesson Four: there’s nothing like a global pandemic to bring out true colours.

Quite possibly the most important lesson I’ve taken from this shit-show, is that we’re all stuck in the same, rickety, partially submerged boat. This boat is drifting rapidly down a route that we do not know or recognise. We’re all scared, we are all vulnerable. None of us know what is waiting around the river bend. Now, this is either an opportunity for friendships to grow, or for true colours to show.

Those who choose to maintain friendships, despite being scared shitless themselves, are the people I’d like on my team. Those who send a reassuring message every now and then, FaceTime you over brunch to catch up, or even take the time to write you letters, are my type of people. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, complicated or false. A simple “I hope you’re okay” is plenty. “I’m thinking of you,” or “I’m here if you need me," will also suffice.

Those who do not seem bothered if you don’t survive the zombie apocalypse, funnily enough, are not bothered.

This was a hard lesson for me to wrap my head around. Relationships and friendships that I had thought would stand the test of time, have crumbled within the space of a couple of weeks. Equally, relationships that I had hoped would re-emerge, have remained radio silent. A leopard doesn’t change his spots after all.

My flatmate’s words of wisdom: “Honey, if a global pandemic doesn’t inspire them pick up the damn phone, nothing will.” I think she might be onto something.

Despite this realisation, there’s a flip-side. Relationships that were once new, slightly alien and unfamiliar, have become a daily comfort. People I wouldn’t have had the time to get to know, I now speak to every day, without fail. To these people, I am dying to meet you. I'm dying for the simple pleasure of nattering over a cup of coffee in a crowded coffee shop. The simplicity of being able to hug. To exchange glances, instead of texts.

I didn’t understand the concept of long-distance relationships and friendships pre-isolation. I mocked those who relied so heavily on friendships with strangers. I was incredibly naive.

How can someone become so attached to a person they’ve never even met?

Quite easily, it would seem.

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