In addition to my attention span, another pandemic-related loss not immediately obvious to me (probably because I was too worried about all the other losses, like the human lives, and the general erosion of mental health, and the ability to pretend that the institutions holding up our society would be able to take care of our most vulnerable), which I am only now realizing, has been the in-between moments.

The 30 minutes between leaving work and meeting up with a friend for drinks is an in-between moment. The subway commute that was too crowded to even think so I’d have to mentally check out is an in-between moment. The time spent standing on line at the post office during a quick lunch break is an in-between moment.

I feel like my days used to be so full, too full, but it also created a lot of those moments, which could be magical because they were often opportunities for connection or discovery. I could stumble upon an open art gallery or exhibit, or strike up a conversation with another person standing in line about something mundane. One time in the aforementioned post office line, I started talking to this older Hungarian woman who told me her life story and then gave me a laminated poem she had written about her Jewish neighbors that she lost in the Holocaust (I guess she carried copies of them around and would give them to people she talked to).

I think we are all a little more withdrawn and lonely. New Yorkers were always a little more withdrawn and lonely, but this feels next level to me. And in some ways we have forgotten how to take advantage of these moments. It’s hard to even catch anyone’s eye these days, because we have to compete with their phones.

Being intentional about connecting (reaching out to friends, setting up time to do something) is a good thing, a necessary thing to tend to relationships and keep them alive and growing, but intention takes work, which can honestly feel exhausting sometimes. In-between moments create temporary boredom and sometimes I’m just bored for a few minutes, which is fine, and sometimes I can make something good happen.

Maybe now that it’s (almost) summer, people will be out more, and then there will be more opportunities for these moments. Then I will probably complain that it is too hot and crowded, and want to go back inside. 🙂