Social distancing means keeping six feet apart between yourself and people outside your home, but for me it means being 152 miles from my closest family in Rome, Ga. That’s 3 hours away from my parents, my brother, my sister and her family and everything I’ve known my entire life; without knowing when I’ll be able to visit them again.
I’m on day 13 of my two- week prison sentence known as “self-quarantine” after being exposed to COVID-19, and to say it’s been a challenge is an understatement.
In this time of confusion and uncertainty, technology like Facetime and Skype has been a way for people to try and stay connected and force some sort of normalcy into a very abnormal situation. But although connection is the goal, feelings of disconnect and loneliness are often the outcome.
It’s being able to visually see and interact with your loved ones but knowing that there’s a hidden warning that objects in the mirror are actually farther away than they appear.
I chuckle when I think about the times I try to Facetime my Madre and Padre (that’s what I call my parents) and they answer and awkwardly situate to try and get both of them in the picture. This usually results in them appearing at some sort of unflattering and crooked angle with giant chins, as though they are looking through a funhouse mirror.
We smile and laugh and talk about our days, but all of the giggles and “I love you bunches” don’t take away the searing pain that shoots through my heart knowing that I can’t reach over and give them a giant hug.
It’s disorienting and nauseating thinking about how I can’t run up to Padre, wrap my arms around his waist and squeeze him so tight that it bruises his ribs. I can’t give Madre a gentle hug and kiss on the cheek. I miss going out to eat with my sister and having her be annoyed that I always want to eat at a Mexican restaurant or spending time with my brother and forcing him to take selfies with me.
And the most devastating feeling is being forced to watch my little three-year-old nephew grow up through the camera lens of a cell phone, knowing that I can’t crouch down to talk and beg him to give me a hug or push him on the swing at the park.
I chose to move away to broaden my horizons, but I never imagined it would not be safe to travel the 3 hours to visit them whenever I want.
I’ve lived in Rabun County for about a year and five months now, moving here having only visited once and knowing absolutely no one.
I’ve learned so much about life and have grown as a person and have met the best people along the way. Even though we are all forced to stay apart, I know that we are all in this together.
I want to thank all of my friends who have reached out and offered to help me in every way, both physically and mentally. Thank you to those who have brought me food, groceries from the store and sent well wishes and prayers my way, or even hollered at me across the street. Thanks to all of you who respond to my constant (and probably slightly annoying) texts, Facebook messages and Snapchats and put up with me sending funny memes often.
It means more to me than you could ever know that I have friends in Rabun County and nearby who love me and are there for me, so thank you all.
It helps me stay sane during this insane time and bandaids the pain of loneliness. If I have to be stuck somewhere, I’m very thankful to live in God’s country among his beautiful creations.
This WILL end and we will all be able to get close again, so friends beware because you all are getting hugs from Megan.
But for right now, please social distance and take care of those around you.
I’m counting down the days when I can once again visit my family, so that the 152 miles won’t feel so far away.
Megan Broome is a staff writer for The Clayton Tribune