Crowdsourcing for Connection

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One thing that has always been really important to me is having a beautiful home.  One that is perfectly decorated and perfectly clean at all times.  I probably have my mother to thank, but nothing makes me happier than the perfect music with the perfect lighting with the perfect candles with the perfect blanket in a perfectly clean living room with the perfect décor.  Somewhere behind all these efforts to have a beautiful home, there’s some level of preparation I’m always doing “just in case someone comes over.”  You know, all those people, who are coming over, just one day, as people so often do these days.

I recently realized how often I wish for company.  I have played out in my mind the idea of reoccurring weekend brunches with girlfriends and everyone knows that the second Saturday of every month means they drive to our house in pajamas and they bring their favorite coffee cup they’ve had since their first grown-up job, and we eat bagels and fruit and drink orange juice and we go between sitting at the dining room table and the patio and it’s always fall weather and we laugh about how crazy the week was and we talk about the plans we have the next day that we wished we didn’t commit to and no one really did their make-up for this visit and everyone feels at home.  They even help themselves by getting into our fridge to get more coffee creamer or to put away the rest of the blueberries that we couldn’t finish.  And no one takes a photo of the food for an Instagram post, mainly because most of us forgot where we even set our phone because life was too good to think about phones in that moment.  I don’t even stage the items knowing it would make a beautiful photo, I simply stage them because it makes me happy to serve my friends and because I couldn’t wait to use the cloth napkins that had cute little birds printed on them that I found in the clearance bin at Pottery Barn that week.

And Sunday nights I’d feel halfway irritated that I committed again to host a woman’s group where we do potluck style dinner, which is really just five desserts and three appetizers because everyone is hungry but who wants to make a real meal on a Sunday night?  We talk about the books we’re reading now and how they’re changing our lives, someone always cries, and lots of feelings are shared.  People are in sweatpants and everyone is using all of the blankets we have stored on the bottom of our ottoman.  A couple friends even bring their slippers and ask if they can just leave them at our house — and nothing makes me happier.  Everyone leaves way too late but I don’t even care because I’m so filled up from the conversation that the stress of Monday isn’t even a thing anymore.

And throughout the month we’d have friends over on Fridays for dinner.  Not the type of dinner where I stressed about preparing it, but more-so the type where Chris grilled a bunch of things and I arranged the dishes in a pretty way on the center island.  Our friends who showed up would come from unlikely places, none of them really having anything in common initially other than knowing us — some couples, some singles, some in that weird dating but not committed phase of life.  The ages of our friends would span from 22 to 62 and no one would care.  We’d talk about life, and we’d laugh until we cried, and we’d all find ourselves around our table — a few in mismatched chairs we pulled from the basement or the tiny desk we have upstairs, because our dining table was really only meant to hold four to six people but we would always manage to fit 10 at the table with three others talking in the kitchen.

And when people weren’t making themselves at home in our home — they were calling us.  On the real phone.  Not texting.  But actually calling and having worthwhile conversations, or even silly conversations.  My friends become Chris’ friends, and Chris’ friends become mine.  We all have each others phone numbers and aren’t afraid to call each other up to say we remembered it was their big project due date at work and we were wishing them luck.  Or to tell them we know their son’s birthday party is coming up and we saw party supplies related to the party theme on sale — we may even offer to pick up the items for them.  We would call each other just to say hi and verbalize that we miss each other.  We’d ask how each other’s parents are doing, and we’d tell each other about an awesome new restaurant we just tried.  We’d know what time is best to call and we’d worry if we didn’t call each other back in a day.  We’d do life together out from behind our screens.

That’s what I want.

I’m over the days of pretending and waiting for company that isn’t coming over and hasn’t technically even been invited.  I’m over texting with people who are my best friends but not hearing their voices on the actual phone.  I have four friends right now that I call on the regular:  three of which are close to or older than my parents and I’d argue real phone calls have been more a part of their lives than texting so it’s just how we operate, and the one who is my age doesn’t have a TV and is somewhat anti-technology so a real phone call is only natural.  And I cherish those conversations so much.  They not only make a long drive seem enjoyable, but we actually connect about real-life stuff and we help each other talk things through.

We say that today is a lonely world and we blame social media.  We say it’s because we feel a false sense of connection that isn’t really there.  I always rolled my eyes to that and dismissed it because I’ve prided myself on close connections with friends and regular “meet me at <<insert whatever restaurant>> this weekend” dates.  But, it’s true.  No one calls each other anymore.  And God forbid they come over to your actual house.  And we’re all just kind of floating around sharing the highlight reels of our life on Instagram but we’re lonely on the days when work is hard, or your family is walking through a hard time, or you miss your friends because you live in a different town, or something hilarious happened and you want to reenact the whole thing for someone.  We’d have to do a livestream these days to share such details. . . like we’re all crowdsourcing for connection; ultimately connecting with people we will never really know in real life.

So if you’re in my life — expect more real-life phone calls from me.  Let’s be done with hiding behind screens and not seeing each other for years at a time even though we live within a reasonable distance from each other.  And you better figure out your favorite recipe, because I’m about to start hosting potlucks.  Bring your sweatpants and leave your phone at home.  Heck, bring a few friends you just met that may need to get out from behind the screens too.  All are welcome.  Come as you are.

But . . . at least wear nice socks, because the answer is “yes” when you ask “should I take my shoes off?”  We have cream colored carpet and I really can’t risk it getting dirty.