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Marco Polo Isn’t Just a Pool Game

Most mornings I record my first “polo” on my walk home from dropping the kids off at daycare. Simply a check-in, a rundown of what I have going on that day. We joke about my work “topic of the day”. I normally need to catch-up on everything that happened after I went to bed (anyone else the ‘early bird’ friend in the group?). I always giggle when someone walks by me – pushing an empty stroller (after dropping the kids off), talking to my phone screen. Aren’t we all going a little #COVIDCrazy?

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I imagine if it were 1954 and we were in the exact same “stay at home” scenario we are in now – I’d have already gone crazy. Heck, not even 1954; 2004! The point is, this unprecedented time has only been made bearable by the luxury that technology affords me. Grocery store apps, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Zoom, Skype, Doordash, Runkeeper. These apps and websites are literally keeping me alive, sane, connected and employed.

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We’re a group text kind of tribe. We’ve been group texting for years – some days we exchange hundreds of texts before Noon, other days not a peep until 7:00 pm. It doesn’t matter, we are in each other’s lives. Daily. We share funny stories, serious situations, life changing news, requests to ‘please send wine’ if we’re having a really bad day. We give advice, we ask for prayer, we vent – oh LORD do we vent. We make plans – do you remember back when we could make plans? Seems like just yesterday… or just two months ago…

So then came the COVID-19. For those that typically went to work, we started working from home. School-aged kids stayed home. Working moms with school-aged kids became working mom/teacher from home (GOD BLESS THEM). Husbands stayed home. (Anyone successfully co-working with their spouse?) Plans: cancelled. Fun: cancelled. A much needed girls weekend away: cancelled. Just a simple girls night in: cancelled.

Anyway, we tried a few options to connect and have fun. Facebook messenger has a FaceTime-esq option, but its contingent on everyone being available at the same time. We tried House Party – which in theory is a really fun option for virtual game night, but again – you have to be ready at the same time. And if you think it is hard to plan a night away with seven girls, try planning a night away at home, when your kids are there, for seven girls.

A week or so into stay-at-home orders, one of us mentioned she downloaded “Marco Polo” to video chat with some other friends and it was really fun. SO we all downloaded it. “Quarentainment” we called it. We’re also making up words now. While the discomfort of staring at  my own (unkempt) face was startling (don’t worry, there are filters) – I was SO HAPPY to see their faces, gaze into their eyes, read their expressions, hear their voices. You record your video on your time, watch other videos on your time – it is perfect. We can see when others are “in the app” and there are times when all of us are sending videos and responding immediately. It changed everything about our group communication. We’re closer now than we were three months ago, even during this time of COVID-19 quarantine, we’re closer.  I feel it and I know they do too.

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Text threads lack emotion. I don’t care how many smiley, laughing, middle finger emojis you put in a text, it still lacks emotion. Video chatting is the closet medium we have to face to face contact and it feels like a warm blanket with a glass of wine. These voices, these faces, these emotions, these people are my people and I love seeing them when I can’t be with them. 

Every other night, when it is my turn to put the baby to sleep, I pop on the “Polo” and tell them all goodnight from my daughter. She is kicking back on my stomach, drinking her bottle. Occasionally, seeing herself prompts her to stop drinking and whisper “hi hi hi hi”. This is the only time she whispers. 

All our kids regularly make an appearance in our videos. Often, our kids will watch the polos with us and want to say “hi” to the other kids. Some of them are growing so rapidly – both physically and emotionally – this three months will bring about significant changes that cannot be missed! We have 15 kids between us, ranging from 10 months to 15 years old. The milestones are real. The frustration is real. The need to bang our heads against the wall is so real.

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Everyone asks “What is the thing you miss most? What is the first thing you’re going to do when life returns to ‘normal'”?

Girl’s Night

Girl’s Wine Tasting

Girl’s Weekend Away

How soon is too soon to plan all three?

Right now it is too soon. So for now, when anyone calls “Marco!”, we all yell “POLO!” because friends don’t let friends get lonely during quarantine. 

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via @phoenixfeatherscalligraphy for @exhale.creativity

This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “Together, Apart”.

2 comments on “Marco Polo Isn’t Just a Pool Game

  1. How fun. Not sure old men could do it the same way. Walter Matheus and Jack Lemon come to mind.

  2. I have a Marco Polo group chat going with my parents and three siblings and it’s been so fun (funny!). I often wonder about what this time would look like without technology. Glad it’s helping to keep you grounded.

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