I didn’t know I could hold my breath for so long until last week when I finally exhaled. I was sitting round a fire pit with a small group of (vaccinated) women from my weekly writing group who I haven’t seen in person for over a year…the last time I inhaled. We’ve been Zooming, of course, and reading our work to each other. But this is a group that has met weekly for 15 years. In person. Around a table. In someone’s dining room. It’s a Wild Writing group. Really more like True Confessions. Therapy. (Isn’t all writing?) We all write our truths and read them aloud to each other every week. We know all about the intimacies of our lives; our loves, our frustrations, our joys, our worries, our gains and our losses. And even though we’ve continued to write together and read aloud to the group all year, something has been missing. We get a peak into each other’s homes, wherever it is we’ve set up our computers. That should add something, right? We see each other’s faces, the same faces that have shown up all these years, right? We know the cast of characters, the lovers, the children, the grandchildren, even the pets, right? We sometimes even cry the same tears. But no, something has been missing. A certain soul. The soul that you feel when you are in the same room with someone. Their essence. Their breath. When you read to a live person, you feel their reaction to your words. They laugh (unmuted) with you (or at you), or nod almost imperceptibly, or wiggle in their chair. Or sometimes annoy you with their distracting ‘ding’ on their phone. I used to hate when people brought their raw vegan foods to the table, as if they couldn’t go two hours without a feeding. But it turns out, it is all that that I missed. We all missed it. When we sat together around the fire pit and talked about what we’ve learned about ourselves or our loved ones during this year, about how we feel about stepping out again (fearful, to be honest), about the joy we all felt at exhaling, finally, at seeing one another in the flesh again, we all inhaled deeply of the shared air, the shared soul and absorbed the presence of our special intimacy again.