Dear Amy: Not long before the pandemic started, I moved across the country. I've tried staying in touch with people where I used to live, and I spent about six months in my new home getting out and meeting people.
I created a few acquaintances, but that's it.
I've tried suggesting video or phone chats, but people I know (in both places) aren't interested in more than texting.
The past three months have been isolating. I have a health condition that puts me at high risk, so I don't see an end in sight without a vaccine.
There's really no way to make new friends while staying at home, so how do I deal with texting being my only form of contact for the next year or so?
Amy says: I certainly hope it won't be a year before you are able to move around with a feeling of safety. A year is a very long time to be isolated from most human contact.
My first recommendation is to adopt a pet, if you are able and if your health allows. Shelters are offering adoptions via appointment.
Many people who are working (remotely) are completely exhausted with videoconferencing. What seemed like a fun novelty four months ago ("Zoom cocktails, cool!) now feels forced.
Texting is not an optimal way to stay in touch, but if you put some effort into becoming an engaging correspondent (not initiating too often, being responsive and occasionally sending fun memes and videos), texting can be a somewhat satisfying way of staying connected.
You could also see if your hometown friends might want to create a standing date to play online games like Words With Friends.
Understand, however, that many people are struggling right now — just as you are. What I'm trying to say is it's not you. It is everyone.
Your local library might host a (virtual) book club you could join. Doing this would help you to connect in-person when the world opens up.
Yes, you can make new friends while staying at home. There are online communities for any interest you might have — or acquire. Reddit.com is (basically) the internet's bulletin board. I just randomly looked up "Portland/knitting" and felt instantly cheered by the photos and comments — and I don't knit or live in Portland!
A financial divide
Dear Amy: I am retired. I never married and have no children. Thanks to the careful budgeting of my parents and an uncle, I am comfortably well off. Now that I have the time and my health, I have indulged in traveling.
If all goes well, I'm planning a trip to Europe later this year. I offered all three of my nieces a chance to go with me. All three turned me down for good reasons, so it looks like I am going by myself.
My brother called and asked how it was that I can afford to take the kids to Europe and not help him with other bills. I am likely to get overburdened with his bills, and I didn't feel comfortable signing a loan for him.
My brother told me that I was not to have anything to do with his kids. I am a consenting adult who can decide for myself who I will and won't associate with. Furthermore, all three nieces are consenting adults and can make their own decisions. I'd love to hear your take on the situation.
Amy says: Yes — you are all consenting adults, and your brother does not have the right to control either you or his adult daughters.
However, understand that parents are able to pull all sorts of strings with their children, and there is nothing you can do about that.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.