My dad and I have always been very close; we're two birds of a feather, and look and act so much alike that my family calls us "The Twins." Although I haven't lived with my parents in many years, I've always made it a point to see them as much as possible, and in recent years, that's been nearly weekly. Whether we picked a night to grab dinner out or spent an evening cooking in my dad's kitchen, we've remained close by physically seeing each other for a few hours a week.
Once the pandemic hit, our physical meetings came to a halt, and all we were left with was texts, calls, and FaceTime video chats, which at first just didn't feel the same, or enough. However, three months in, I actually feel that we've gotten closer through this time apart, as we're now prone to communicating even more than we ever did before, filling each other in on small parts of our lives that may not have come up in the past; tiny details that would have felt silly to include in our conversations before but are now the bread and butter of our chats.
We Send Each Other Photos of Things We've Cooked
Even though we used to only spend one night a week eating together on average, we've now started sending each other photos of the meals we're making often. Even if I'm cooking my go-to One Pot Sun Dried Tomato Chicken and Orzo for the fortieth time since March, it still feels worth documenting and sharing each time. And even though I get totally jealous when my dad makes something epic for him and my mom, it's fun to see what they're up to and get recipe inspiration.
We Video Chat at Least Every Other Day
"We share tiny details that would have felt silly to include in our conversations before but are now the bread and butter of our chats."
Now that our busy lives have come to a startling halt, we have so much more time to jump onto a FaceTime call to chat, even though having no social lives means there's even less to talk about — or so we thought. Because there's so little to discuss day-to-day now, I find myself sharing smaller parts of my life with him than ever before — like how my fiancé walked through the background of a video meeting with my coworker in nothing but his underwear or what our cats' nap spots of the week are. In return, he shares his dog's latest quirks and what weird item my mom most recently bought online. These details, though tiny, make me feel more connected to him and give us more things to laugh about.
We Try Some of the Same Things and Compare
Speaking of my mom's online shopping habits, last week's purchases included a variety pack of out-of-the-box cotton candy flavors and packages of candied nuts, which she also sent to me. What resulted was an in-depth conversation (and debate) with my dad about which cotton candy flavor was the best and which nuts would be most delicious when crushed up into a batch of fresh sugar cookies (mango dragon fruit cotton candy and crème brûlée almonds, respectively). Again, tiny things, but even talking about our latest finds at Trader Joe's as our households' designated grocery shoppers has been surprisingly exciting. Now, when either of us try something the other recommended, it feels worth a phone call or a text message to talk at length about it even though four months ago, I might have rolled my eyes at a phone call placed first and foremost to discuss s'mores-flavored cotton candy.
We Talk Out Our Anxieties Together
Both my dad and I are very anxious people, though we tend to hide that fact pretty well. However, I can always tell when the tone of his voice isn't quite right (as he can with me), and several times throughout this pandemic, both of our anxiety levels have been off the charts. We've really connected through talking out our concerns and worries with each other, and nearly every time we speak candidly, I start to feel better even just knowing that he shares many of these anxious thoughts with me. In a time where many people are feeling overwhelmed and nervous about health and safety, it feels silly to say "Just talk about it!" but it helps more than I ever imagined.
Screen fatigue and the low desire to get on a video call when you haven't washed your hair in days are both very real things, but if you're missing a loved one, I can attest to the power of a phone call about something your cat did or a text containing a photo of your first-ever homemade meatballs. These small connections can't replace being together in person, but I credit them as the reason my dad and I have become even closer during a time when we're safest apart.