Connections will keep us afloat
Last updated 3/25/2020 at 4:37pm | View PDF
Recently, a friend I saw at the orthodontist's office told me her family is missing all kinds of teeth.
"Me, too!" I practically shouted, excited to know someone else plagued by weird orthodontics. I promptly rattled off our list of teeth that never materialized. It's pretty common, I guess - hypodontia - even Michael Jordan never got his right incisor, but I was happy to connect with my first, and only, no-incisor friend.
When I'm plodding through the mundane, feeling a little lonely and tired from the daily grind, small personal connections, like that one, are brightly colored buoys in my day, giving me something to grab on to as I lift my head up. I've needed more buoys this year with so many days of viruses, politics and simply gray sky, pushing on my chest, heavy and unrelenting.
On cold days, a friend and I have bundled up, scarves to our eyelashes and hats pulled down low, puffing out white clouds of icy air that hold the story of our lives spoken in them. I'd make a cloud of air, and then she would, too, until we were all caught up, and I'd think, 'Thank God' - for cold cheeks turned rosy and friends laughing, holding the weight of the sky together.
I sometimes recharge streaming "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" or "Ozark," which I love, but these are not personal connections. Occasionally Mrs. Maisel or Marty Byrde will look a certain way or say a certain line that speaks right to me, but mostly they're just fun distractions. Connections mean witnessing another's life up close and them witnessing yours. Hearing and being heard, seeing and being seen - these are the most memorable and uplifting parts of each day.
My cares are eased by people I encounter daily - the friend who giggled with me over how impossible it is to parallel park in the circle drive at the library or the woman who said, "That would happen to me, too," as she smiled and helped me gather all the coins that spilled from my wallet at Starbucks, or the person who told me her Dad calls Uber "Yoober," or the friend who shared her "Perfect Man" chocolate bar with me. For a few minutes, our lives overlapped, and the light we created eclipsed our "to do's" and our troubles.
When you link your life in some small way with mine - even when we can't meet face to face - we become buoys for each other, basking in the sunshine and rising above the waves side by side, anchored, steadfast and strong.
- Carol Wittemann of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected]