May 23, 2020

Weekend Recap: Socializing Again

Friday was a busy day at work, but I kept reminding myself that I was in for an exciting night: my friend Karlin was coming over for dinner and drinks on my deck after work! This would be my first time meeting up with a friend since I began sheltering in place in early March, and also, my first time drinking (not counting the half glass of wine I had on my COVID Vacances). It was sure to be eventful night, and oh boy, it was definitely that. When I decided I was going to “experiment” with seeing people in person, I certainly dove right in!

Karlin texted me about an hour before she was coming over, pointing out that the forecast was now for rain. However, it was only a 30-40% chance for two hours, and then clear… so we hoped it would either skip us or maybe just sprinkle a bit. Things started out as anticipated – Karlin came over, I poured a glass of wine for each of us, and we retreated to our own sides of the deck. When it came time for a second glass each, I even successfully poured from about a foot above our glasses to keep the neck of the bottle from contamination. But then, it started to rain.

For the first five minutes, we bravely sat in the rain, with Karlin moving over to the side of the deck closer to me / the house where she would be a little bit more protected by the slight overhang of the roof. But finally, I said screw it; just come on in the house. I was happy this didn’t make me nervous at all (I just wanted to do the right thing), and we spent the night talking and laughing over pesto quinoa, cookies, wine and… peanut butter whiskey.

I heard about Skrewball peanut butter whiskey multiple times as an ad on the Jillian Michaels Podcast. It sounded intriguing, but I also had a feeling it was going to be terrible and I’d just want one sip and then be done, so I was reluctant to buy a bottle. However, this week’s grocery flyer had it on sale for only $22 (hooray for Colorado groceries now carrying liquor!), so I decided to give it a try… and OMG. This stuff is way too delicious! I was drinking it on the rocks, and had absolutely no need for any other mixers. (Well, no need for other mixers to make it taste delicious… I could definitely have used some non-alcoholic mixers to tone down the alcohol!)

Between the two of us, we put away two bottles of wine and a half bottle of the whiskey. Yup, after two months of me not drinking. Oops! With that in mind, it’s probably no surprise that I woke up on the couch (nope, didn’t make it up to my bed) and… wrapped in the dog blanket?! That last part really makes no sense to me, as there was a perfectly good people-blanket on the couch, but I evidently chose to cuddle up with the hairy dog blanket from the floor. And when I got Sugar out of her crate and then stumbled back to the couch to lie down, she spent the morning judging me hard!

Poor Sugar was so confused why I wasn’t putting her leash on and bouncing out the door like usual.

I spent the entire morning doing absolutely nothing and scrolling around on social media. But at 10am, I finally dragged myself up – I needed to get out of last night’s clothes and into something presentable. It was a beautiful day outside, and it was time to go out on the front lawn and cheer for the local high school graduation parade!

Did your town do something like this? It was such a great way to honor our graduates! I hope this is a tradition that continues long after the virus is gone.

This parade was a little less organized than some of the others we’ve had; rather than having a specific start place and time, the cars were just supposed to join the 6-mile or so route anywhere. Unfortunately, this meant that we got a bunch of cars in one clump, and then nothing for a while, which was a bit anticlimactic; we’re all just figuring out these new activities and how to make them work, so I’m sure next year’s will be improved! It was still pretty awesome and I’m so grateful to the organizers for making this happen.

While we were waiting for parade cars, Sugar and I decided to venture down the street; we ended up saying hello to a few friends in their driveways and chatting for a bit. But the combo of my late start to the day and decision to wander around in the noonday sun proved problematic when I got home: I discovered my neck, chest, and arms were sunburned! Since I’m normally out around 6 or 7am, the sun usually isn’t a problem, but it was really dumb of me to be outside at noon without sunscreen. I swear I burn myself once a year before I remember that I need to put sunscreen on before I go out. At least it wasn’t a bad burn (it’s already turned to tan), and now my lesson is learned for 2020. Someone remind me in April 2021 so I can skip the hard lesson next year 😉

After a quick lunch, I headed out to the back deck – my friends Mike and Brittney (they are a household) were coming over for a socially distant date! Unlike Friday night, it was a beautiful, sunny day, with no threat of rain, and I was pleased to discover that I wasn’t nervous or uncomfortable at all with having them over. We stayed on opposite sides of the deck, but aside from not being able to hug hello / goodbye, it felt fairly normal. Maybe I am adjusting to post-isolation life okay?? Or at least I’m not totally unable to make in-person conversation, which is a relief 🙂

Mike and Brittany headed home in the late afternoon, and I headed downstairs to my gym to squeeze in a Peloton class now that I was feeling better (this 30 min Intervals & Arms Ride with Hannah Marie Corbin that I really enjoyed). I had to hustle to get that in plus a shower, since I still had one more guest coming over. (Go big and stay home?) I’ve been trying to online date for the last few months, and Saturday was my first in-person first date.

Finding “love in the time of COVID” is pretty challenging. With pre-COVID19 online dating, the rules of engagement were clear – you swipe, you message each other a bit, you quickly meet up for drinks to see if you mesh in person. Now, no one (myself included) really knows what the rules are, and we all have different expectations of how a relationship might form and progress. For me, I had a fairy tale idea of matching with someone on an app, messaging fast and furiously, going on a video date, and then hitting it off so much that we started messaging and video chatting incessantly until it seemed silly not to meet in person. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been quite how it’s worked out! I’ve had a lot of guys ask to meet up right away, or sometimes casually mention that they were having friends over for dinner or a movie. (On the bright side, that helped me see they were complete idiots with no self-control / sense of responsibility before I wasted my time with them.) But when a guy I had been messaging for a month suggested we meet up at a local park now that shelter-in-place is lifted, I decided to take him up on a socially distant first date.

Although we were originally going to meet at the park, he suggested I bring Sugar so he could meet her… but I really didn’t want that stress. Sugar has become more and more shy since we haven’t been seeing anyone, now bordering on aggressive toward strangers. When I first got her, she would ignore anyone we saw on our runs; now, she will sometimes growl or bark at people. It’s not good! But I also get it – what a confusing time it must be for dogs, where we now cross the street or go off trail if we see anyone else coming. I didn’t want to spend a first date focused on how comfortable Sugar was, so I instead suggested we meet at my house to hang out on the deck. I figured that way he could meet Sugar, but when she inevitably freaked out at the stranger, I could keep her inside and not have to worry.

The Sugar part worked out just as I expected (some barking at first, but she calmed down after a while and even ended up happily sharing the sofa on the deck with me while my date was on the other side of the patio). But as far as socially distant dating? Man, this is tough. It was one thing to meet up with my friends like this, but can you figure out if there’s chemistry with someone new when you are sitting ten feet apart?? I did get an elbow bump goodbye, which my friends at our regular Saturday night game night afterward decided is a good sign 😉

According to this meme, an elbow bump is somewhere between 2nd and 3rd base.

Sunday morning, I woke up in a much better state than Saturday, after a good night’s rest. I didn’t set an alarm, but I was still up by 6am – time to hit the trails with Sugar for my first hike with Sugar! We headed to Rattlesnake Gulch, where I hoped we would avoid both the rattlesnakes and most people by getting out early.

This is one of my favorite trails to run! I usually do a mix of run / walk on the way up, then run all the way down.

Unfortunately, the trailhead already had five other cars when I arrived – for which I blame 5280 Magazine for featuring this trail in their April issue as a hidden gem hiking trail 😛 Sugar and I saw a few people on the way up, which was kind of a pain because I had to pull her over to the side and hold her close to keep her from lunging at anyone. She is just so scared of people right now!

She loves the views though!

The way down was much better than the way up – maybe in part because we were running the whole way, but Sugar also seemed more comfortable with passing people. Progress! And great news, because I’d love to hit more trails with her. I am hoping that now that we’re out of total isolation, I can make sure she’s regularly having people get close to her, even though I can’t actually introduce her to people right now.

Next time, Sugar, maybe we’ll hike all the way up those mountains you see!

I was pretty tired after the 7 mile trail run, but was excited to get home and treat myself to something yummy – baked apple fritters! I’ve been craving apple fritters for a while, but also knew I’d feel terrible if I actually indulged in one from a donut shop (sooooo much sugar, which I haven’t been eating much of lately, was sure to make me crash). Instead, I decided to make my own, and found this recipe for baked apple fritters. Although they were baked, they still weren’t necessarily healthy, but they were delicious… and I polished off the entire batch. Oops! These were not quite like the apple fritters I had in mind (the deep fried kind that are covered in glaze), but more like apple muffins; while I liked them, I’m sure I could find a healthier recipe if I were just going for apple muffins instead of fritters. However, I did recently order an air fryer I saw on sale, so maybe I’ll have to try my hand at actual fritters again once it comes.

One good thing about eating something less healthy? It made me feel guilty enough to go get some serious workouts in 🙂 I caught up on several Peloton strength classes in a row, and was proud of myself for sticking with it for a full hour! That meant I was back on track with the Team Olivia Strength Challenge I joined a few days late and have been trying to catch up on. After cleaning up, I made my grocery run for the week, which then allowed me to have a massive salad for lunch (I love grocery run day, when I have all the ingredients!). And then, one more in-person gathering to close out the weekend! My neighbor Elisabeth had invited four of us (including my friend Karlin) to her backyard for a socially distant happy hour.

Although this was my first time meeting up with a (small) group, Elisabeth took every precaution to make us feel safe. She thoroughly scrubbed down her patio furniture with disinfectant; set up the chairs six feet apart, each with their own side table and personal-sized dishes of snacks; she left the gate open so no one would have to touch it to come; and she used gloves and fresh cups whenever someone needed a refill on snacks / drinks. What an amazing host! It was also just so wonderful to see this group of friends all at once rather than only on Zoom, and it was the perfect afternoon to sit in the backyard together. If this is what summer will be like, maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

So… now that things are opening up, am I getting right back into regular life? I’m not sure. I was really happy to discover that meeting up with friends this morning didn’t make me nervous. I know some of my friends have developed agoraphobia in their time in quarantine, and I was worried that either that or anthropophobia (fear of people) would happen to me. Instead, I found it totally comfortable to meet up with friends, but surprisingly not as fulfilling as I expected.

There are still things I really want that we aren’t yet able to do. I want to be able to touch / hug my friends. (I am so grateful that I’ve had foster dogs throughout all of this; while they’re certainly not the same as people, I think having another living being with me has helped my mental state so much.) And, the biggest thing – I want to go to a crowded restaurant or bar and enjoy a night out with my friends, while also potentially meeting others who are also there. That last part is something I don’t see happening for a very long time, and I miss the serendipity of not knowing who you’ll meet. This isn’t about dating; I just genuinely enjoy meeting new people, and right now I don’t have any real opportunities to do that.

On the flip side – one of the sentiments I’ve seen about quarantine that I completely agree with is about not just “returning to normal”, but taking time to reevaluate what we want in life. What new habits or ideas can we take from quarantine to real life? While Friday night drinking with Karlin was a ton of fun, getting back to drinking also reminded me that I don’t think I love it, and I don’t want to make it a regular part of my life the way it used to be. I’d like to have my default be not drinking, but then if I have a special occasion or a night where I’m really wanting to let loose, I’ll relax it. I think too often, before quarantine, I would have a glass or two of wine at dinner without thinking about it (because everyone else was drinking, and/or because wine is really delicious). I want to be more thoughtful about when I drink going forward, only doing it when it’s something I really want.

And with regards to socialization… I am really happy with the life I’ve built for myself in quarantine. I’m surprised to discover that I’ve actually been quite content with all this quality solo time. (What a change from thirteen years ago when I vividly recall feeling uncomfortable and like a misfit even going out to dinner by myself on business trips!) As I’m thinking about which aspects of “normal life” and socialization to incorporate for this upcoming weekend, I’m finding myself almost regretting that I won’t have as much solo time – and I’m being a lot more conscious of which invitations I say yes to.

Everyone thinks of me as an extrovert because of how outgoing I am, but the truth is that I recharge equally but differently from time with a group and time by myself – and I really need both. With my typical travel schedule giving me so little time at home, I’ve always struggled with too many people to see and not enough time to see them, and FOMO tends to drive me toward focusing on time with others. Now, I’ve gotten used to having time to myself, and as we start being allowed to socialize, I need to figure out how to incorporate socialization while still giving me the solo time I have come to love. I did not expect to feel this way our when shelter-in-place got lifted!

I hope you are all healthy and happy, and that things are starting to ease up where you are as well. Please keep wearing your masks whenever you leave the house, but I also hope you are able to find safe ways to start socializing again. And definitely share with me your lessons learned! This weekend definitely showed me it’s not going to be as seamless as “let’s get back to normal”; there will be a lot of transition and I think we’ll be redefining normal quite a bit.


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