I don’t like the term “social distancing,” because I am not.

Every society I belong to is sending me Facebook posts and newsletters and blog links to make sure I am not lonely, that I am “connected to community.” Nor do I feel “isolated” with my phone calls and my books and my waves to neighbors.

But I am missing human-to-human contact.

I am lonely for hugs and shared laughter. I miss the brief hello and good bye hugs I get from my girl friends when we meet for an adventure or a coffee. I miss the longer, tighter, deep-breath hugs from my children and grandchildren, and the occasional sloppy kiss from my still affectionate grandson. My husband is funny and sharp and quick, so I laugh at him. I never fail to laugh and giggle at America’s Funniest Home Videos — I am the traditionally built grandmother who thinks she can still play or ride and ends up falling and falling and falling. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with the Three Stooges. But anyway, we humans always laugh at falls. My sister gave me a dish towel that clarifies the human position: I am your sister, if you fall I will pick you up — as soon as I stop laughing.

But I miss the spontaneous laughter at a bridge game when we can’t remember whose turn it is to deal. Book Club laughter, and Book Club tears. The real emotions that catch in our throats when we share a moving reading experience and someone says: “Everyone should read this book.”

I miss the laughter I have shared over stories and dinner at Lucky’s, the Catholic Church fish fry, or even at a church covered-dish dinner.

Speaking of church, I miss the hymns with all of our voices raised together. Recordings and ZOOM meetings are not the same. The Welsh claim, “When I talk with someone, he becomes my friend. When I sing with someone, he becomes my brother.” And I feel the truth of their claim within a congregation.

My friends on the phone tell me that they are “getting caught up” on their cleaning.

Yes, I am noticing the blackish gray stuff around my washing machine’s soap dispenser. I take the time to dust my knife block and discover some kind of sticky covering. Is that grease and dirt or is the finish wearing away? I have started a Salvation Army pile in my living room. I clean a drawer a day.

I am frightened of this hideous and deadly virus. But I am glad that we are figuring it out, discovering and overcoming our country’s weaknesses when fighting a pandemic.

And I am also selfishly glad that pollen season is happening at the same time.

But I long for some positive excitement beyond my daily emails from Book Bub and Netflix Suggestions. It is up to me, so I am taking three initial steps to add excitement to my quarantined life.

First, I think I will wear my T-shirts wrong side out. Why bother which side comes up out of the wash? No one cares. Except my husband who is very conservative and thinks wearing shirts or nightgowns inside out is just wrong — or lazy. I always tell him clothes feel better wrong side out, with no seams or tags to chafe, but really, I don’t notice or care which side is facing the world.

Besides, if I wear them wrong side out on purpose, then the inside becomes the outside that I have chosen, and therefore the right side.

Second, I have ordered a beginners knitting kit. I admire textile artists: Quilters, embroiderers, knitters, crochet queens. I used to be able to do simple knitting, but I don’t remember how to cast on — or cast off. So I ordered a children’s kit that came with yarn and needles and step-by-step directions. I will let you know how exciting this really is.

Third, the one thing I am determined to do is to dye my hair. I am as tired of gray hair as I am of the coranavirus. When I look in the mirror — why wear make up these days? — I see pale skin, colorless lips, and white hair. My image has washed away. Maybe one of the ladies at the drug store would pick something out and hand it to me. Maybe two or three boxes in different colors, so that I can reinvent myself by trial and error while no one is watching.

Gurus are urging us to take advantage of this quiet time in our lives, to read the classics or practice mindfulness.

OK. But I also think I will dye my hair.

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Cheryl Hilderbrand is a Jackson writer and educator. Email her at



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