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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Johnson

Meeting New People


Being around strangers in quarantine has been weird. I wouldn’t say my usual social skills are particularly developed. A lot of people who meet me don’t think I’m very nice the first time round, that I’m harsh or cold or distant when in reality I’m just trying to work out if you actually want me to hug you considering we’ve never met before or if you’d rather just talk to my friends who you have met before or how quickly I can work out your sense of humour to try and make you laugh but also what if I get it wrong and y… Most of the time meeting new people is pretty scary for me. But In The Current Climate it’s just very strange.

Did we always get so close to strangers before? I don’t know about anyone else but I actually feel guilty about keeping my 2m distance. It almost feels like every time I take a wide breadth passing someone on the street I need to shout after them. “I swear it’s nothing personal!” or “I’m ever so sorry it’s just there’s a viral outbreak and we don’t know how it can affect people of different ages because there seems to be some anomalies and it’s imperative that we protect the vulnerable, otherwise I would absolutely share your breath!” But now for some, seeing strangers in a shop or passing them on the street is their main form of human contact.

With this in mind I got very excited yesterday when, due to our imminent move, we had to show people around our flat. We live in a 1 bedroom flat in South East London in which we have to operate a one-way system around our living room/kitchen/dining room so as to not collide with each other on a daily basis. So social distancing in this situation meant us crouching in the corner while strangers merged onto the single carriageway around the sofa. But we had a conversation! With people we didn’t know! In person! I’d never felt more energised after talking about water pressure, traffic noise and council tax. I started making conversations that were potentially inappropriate for a flat viewing. Hi I’m Natalie. What are your hobbies? Do you like dogs? Shall we be friends?

A Very Small Flat

And so then I thought about all the people I’m going to meet and hug whether they want me to or not. And I thought about all the strangers on the street whose breath I won’t have to jump 2m away from when I see them (though maybe I should). But mostly I was so consumed with excitement to get back to normal and meet new people. And maybe when that happens I might not be so scared to get it wrong because it will be in a better time when all of this is over and done with.

But then the next prospective tenants were racists so that bubble burst pretty quickly.

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