Let’s Meet on the Porch

Another couple at the end of the street have been sitting on the porch of their bungalow while their teens and friends space themselves six feet apart on the front lawn. A month ago, around the corner, I heard a tiny “hi” from an enclosed porch — only to see a miniature Darth Vader looking out, barely reaching the window. It was May the Fourth.

Our porch runs the width of our house, about 25 feet. We have found there’s ample space for social distancing, so we designated a chair to be sanitized before and after each guest. My husband and I realized this while a repairman finalized the sale of a boiler from 20 feet away. The next guest, Christine, a friend, brought over an extra pulse oximeter (I have asthma) and sad news about a 95-year-old World War II veteran in town who was dying. We toasted him with glasses of wine.

I didn’t know how starved I had become for connection until I took my spot on the porch and enthusiastic waves from passers-by — and from me in return — ensued. I’ve had limited outings since March, my only excursions being hikes, neighborhood walks and doctors’ appointments — mostly solo.

The first time we recognized the porch as a social vehicle to get through this time came in mid-March, after my 16-year-old daughter, Nia, returned from a trip to Spain and had to be quarantined for 14 days. Nia sat inside while her friend Lily sat on the porch, a closed window between them, and they spoke on their phones.

From the porch, I have watched a convoy of cars and minivans cruise along the street, honking at a retiring elementary schoolteacher who came down off her porch to tell her students how much she loved them.

I congratulated my neighbor Ed on turning 79 earlier this spring. His family held a party in his honor on his front lawn, while he sat on the porch with his wife, Shirley.

On Memorial Day, we usually hold a brunch during the local parade that streams past our house. It’s the time when we typically spruce up the porch for our guests. Even though the parade was postponed, I’ve put in fresh geraniums in the cement urns at the base of the stairs.

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