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  • Writer's picturebret021

6 Feet Apart

Portraits of life at a distance in Parker

I won't even pretend, this "social distancing" lifestyle has worked out really well for me. A simplified calendar with nowhere to go, my whole family gathered together, hunkered down and isolated from the world. I don't love what caused it, but I might adopt this as my new lifestyle permanently.

That being said, quarantine (in all its various forms) has started to take a toll on everyone. Being isolated has limited our social interactions and deprived us of the basic need for simple touch. Whether a hug, handshake or even a high five, touch is a fundamental way we connect with each other. It has been shown to improve a person’s immune system and sleep cycle, calm your stress response down, and help light up the part of the brain that controls empathy.

As reopening begins, we are slowly assimilating to a new normal, one that is six feet apart, putting us farther away from our loved ones, coworkers, and even strangers on the street. But with this new normal, the focus remains on the people close to us.

Today was her 62nd birthday. She and her husband were not only kind enough to take a break from their bike ride to pose for a picture, but she was intent on setting it up in the right place with better scenery.

She said she has always loved bike rides, and is so grateful to still have something she can do during this time, although the trails are a lot more crowded now.

Coloradans love to stay fit, but COVID has made it more difficult. Thank goodness for the miles of trails in our back yard!

He had just finished loading some groceries into the trunk of a woman's car as she sat patiently in the driver's seat. No contact delivery. I asked if he was willing to help me with a project; it would only take a moment. He smiled politely and stood six feet back from me as I took his picture.

I wondered as I thanked him for his time if grocery shopping has changed forever.

There were no other cars in line when we pulled up, and the men seemed eager to have a car to work on. They gathered hesitantly when I requested a picture. I could hear the comments through their masks, wondering what was happening, analyzing, and finally one of them said, "Smile."

We caught him just in time as he rushed through the parking lot. Before I could even finish asking him about a picture he was motioning to a large sign on the door about no entrance without a mask. Being the manager of the assisted living facility, these last six months have been some of his most stressful. Thankfully, they have had very few cases of COVID and have kept everyone safe and healthy.

He was happy to pose for the picture, then after a short chat was rushing off again to another responsibility.

Her biggest objection to the picture was that her hair was a mess. She was grateful to get outside and in spite of the heat, was enjoying the change. She hadn't seen many family or had much change in her routine since COVID hit.

"What is this for?" The last young man to gather next to the group asked.

They struck a pose, not sure if they were supposed to smile or not.

They would prefer to be indoors, but the mask mandate isn't worth it to them, so they brave the hot temperatures to play the game they love. As they walked away to continue their game, that same young man asked, "Are lots of girls going to see this?"

His English was slightly better than my Spanish, which isn't saying much. We struggled through the process of asking for a picture while apologizing for interrupting his work. He didn't seem to mind the break.

Even outdoors doing yard work he had a face covering. He took it down to make conversing with us a little easier, then replaced it as he got back to work.

I joked that this group looked more like the Winter Soldier than lifeguards. New direction has them wearing the masks despite being outdoors and almost always distanced over six feet. Guards across the county find themselves protecting us in different ways than just swimming. They don't complain though; they are too busy watching the water and telling people not to run on the pool deck.

As we approached the group of ladies taking a break from their match, you could see their confusion at the court intruders. As we explained our intentions, one of the women jumped to the front and proclaimed herself ready for the centerfold. The other ladies laughed and allowed her the limelight. As the fourth joined us from a phone call she had been on, we recognized we knew each other. We talked about kids, school starting and how it would look, and how tennis has been their outlet during this

trying time. The ladies graciously posed for a picture, then strided back onto the court to finish their game.


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