Friendly Fire

After weeks of cold weather, my writer’s group was able to meet again on Thursday. Until last year we met twice a week in coffee shops. Of course, when the covid-19 pandemic struck, we had to stop gathering in indoor venues. After a few months of not meeting at all, we started up again last summer, but with outdoor meetings. One day a week, we met in the parking lot of the public library, where we could use the library’s wifi, even though the library itself was closed. And another day each week, we met on my back patio.

Those arrangements were fine — until cold weather forced us to cancel most of our sessions. With a high-40s forecast for Thursday afternoon, we were back in person again for the first time in more than a month. Normally I wouldn’t consider temperatures in the 40s to be conducive to outdoor writing, but we’ve found that it works, if we light a fire in the fire pit.

Three of us gathered on the patio, with a fire burning cheerily and a bag of marshmallows on hand. We all wore masks and stayed 10 feet apart, as always. We hadn’t seen each other in so long that we got very little writing done; mostly we just chatted. And it was wonderful. With the pandemic lockdown approaching the one-year mark, it feels like I go for weeks without holding a real conversation with anyone who isn’t my husband. We caught each other up on our lives (admittedly, I had little to report) and our kids, and we hashed out some of the nation’s problems, including the dire need for a higher minimum wage, the pros and cons of government forgiveness of student-loan debt, and absurd difficulty of getting a coronavirus vaccine.

It wasn’t earth-shattering. And it wasn’t exactly productive. But I felt so much better for the rest of the day. I miss live conversations with friends.

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