So, things have gotten a little weird.
Due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the United States, and much of the world, must now socially isolate themselves. We sit in our homes, peering out at a terrifying new world. Afraid of each other. Afraid for ourselves.
Nary a single Yalie wandering into traffic (as they love to do), the streets of New Haven are a ghost town. The bars and restaurants which make up so much of our community have been forced to close their doors, or at least turn into extremely spacious takeout places. You can’t just… walk into a bar, order a pint, and watch a game or a band.
But it’s okay. You aren’t alone. Not really. I know it feels that way right now. But if you’re here, you’re a part of a community. You’re a part of my community. Even if we’ve never met, I care about you, and you and I are connected in some strange way.
After all, you heard, “Hmmmm, a humorous blog about New Haven? Yes I’m interested.”
This is Our Home
When I started a blog about New Haven, the response I usually got was, “Why?”
“Gun Wavin New Haven? You gonna write a blog about the place where everyone goes to Yale or gets murdered?”
First of all, I would say probably no more than half of people here get murdered.
Second of all.
Yeah. I am. I did.
I moved to New Haven in 2011 and fell in love with it almost immediately. Now, in my defense, I’d spent six years living in New Britain, so my judgment was probably a little bit questionable in the first place.
But I’d never lived in a place where it felt so… cute? Cool?
I could walk down the street to P&M Market in the morning and have an egg sandwich on their patio, watching all of these fashionable grad students walk by with their fancy glasses and extremely tight pants.
The bars had a perfect ratio of young professionals and despondent grad students. You could feel it walking around East Rock or downtown or even Westville because we still had Delaney’s (maybe this is the year I get over it?).
I could walk places! Like, fun places! I’d never lived in a place where you could walk to fun places!
But I don’t love New Haven because it has cool bars and restaurants (though it does), or because it has the greatest pizza in the world (it does), or even because you can ride your bike to the beach (it’s awesome).
It’s the People.
The people I’ve met in New Haven are what makes me love this place. I have never lived in a place where it felt like there were so many people who valued the same things I do.
People who want to feel connected to something. To each other.
A big enough city to constantly meet new people, a small enough city to see those people out and about. There’s something to be said for that.
Sure, you’d occasionally have that conversation where you and a friend accidentally flirted with the same girl on OKCupid and she figured it out cause you were going on the same camping trip to Vermont as a totally hypothetical example.
I have met so many people here who I truly do love, and feel connected to. People who have picked me up in some of the hardest moments of my life, and been there for some of the best, even of neither of us can quite remember exactly what happened due to the dangers of alcohol.
Which is why this is so hard. We don’t feel connected.
Right now, it feels like we’re floating rudderless in the sea, unable to even see shore. We know it’s out there. But we have no idea when we’ll be back. When we can see each other and hug (gross).
All we can do is wait and see.
So, Now What?
First, you should freak out. Are you freaking out? Good. You’re doing great.
Now, you should probably take it a little easier on yourself. We are living in unprecedented times. It’s okay to feel anxious and depressed and worried. That’s a pretty normal emotional response to a pretty weird situation.
I’ve found it extremely difficult to be creative. People keep asking me to do Zoom open mics, and the truth is, I feel so drained and anxious. I need to give myself space to feel tired and alone and let myself recharge before I write or try to host a Quiplash game night on my Twitch channel.
We’re doing great.
Unless you’re out there hanging out with your friends acting like everything is cool and spreading germs. Then you’re not doing great. Do better.
Do you feel better yet? No? Yeah, me either.
How to Feel Connected
The hardest part, aside from the fear, and the uncertainty, and the financial problems, and hey did I always breathe like this cause it feels so weird right now…
But aside from all that, the hardest part is the loneliness. We’re humans. Even me, a guy who can play video games and not talk to anyone for a whole day and feel great about it needs human connection.
Which means you need to do it however you can do it.
Zoom Happy Hour with your friends? Great.
Virtual paint and sip class? Sounds awesome.
Remote Zumba? Hell yeah.
Supporting your local business by gaining quarantine weight and ordering from all of your favorite New Haven restaurants while you FaceTime your best friend? You’re a goddamned hero.
Go for a walk at lunch and wave to your neighbors. They’re scared, too. They haven’t seen this either. Nobody has.
You’re connected to them. Through fear, through uncertainty, through your shared human experience.
Through the city we call home. Even if you are a thousand miles away. If you’re here, you’re part of it. You’re part of me and my family. And I want you to know that that’s why this blog exists.
Because there are other people like me. Like you. People who want to feel connected to a place, who want to be proud of their home, warts and all.
New Haven has seen a lot of hard times over the years, and this is one of the hardest. But if we stick together, we can get through it.
But, you know. Apart.