All Those Video Calls Have Got Me Thinking About Bodies

We’ve been on quasi-quarantine at home now for a week, and I can’t even count the amount of video calls I’ve been on. Work meetings obviously, both larger forums and one-on-ones, but also two dinners with family in Australia, a Friday afternoon kindergarten gathering for Little A, a therapy session, chats with friends, and a kids dance class.

With the exception of the dance class, it’s all just talking heads. And don’t get me wrong, there’s something amazing about this form of communication – definitely better than floods or texts, bumbling emails and even phone calls. I’m sure our ancestors in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic would have enjoyed any of those options for keeping in touch.

But there’s still something missing. The physical.

Of course, I buy the social distancing theory and we’re upholding it as best we can. But I’ve been thinking how important bodies are, for communication. How we watch them and use them and touch them – and I don’t mean just sexually.

How many clues we miss when we can’t see what the person we’re speaking to is doing with their hands. Watching someone pace a room. Body language.

I’m struck also by how much and how often – within the culture I live and work in, at least – we touch each other casually, in greeting, to emphasize points. How jolting it is to meet up with friends and not hug, high five, kiss on the cheek. To hesitate at sharing meals, joints, drink bottles.

And then by contrast – the feeling of my kids little bodies curled into mine. The emotional experience of a business call with a three year old with a fever (don’t worry it was just an ear infection), resting her head on my chest as I talk budgets and plans. Collapsing into my husband on the couch once the kids are finally in bed, asleep. The richness of touch. The comfort and connection.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an embrace is a thousand feelings.

The funny thing is, at my core I’m a words person. If I can get away with sending a text or an email instead of making a phone call or talking to someone face to face, I’ll do it – especially at work. So in a lot of ways this whole isolated, working from home thing is perfect for me. And yet… there’s something missing.

I’m grateful to have my kids and my man around me during this weird-ass time to fill this basic human need, to speak with our bodies. And in the meantime I’m grateful too for the technology we have that somewhat bridges the gap, even though it’s not the real deal.

Virtual hugs, for now. Stay safe and sane out there ❤

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