Marietta photographer Justin Hadley captured this photo of me and my dog, Norman, as part of his "Six Feet from Friends" project.

Together. It’s a word that has been both the antithesis and the reality of many of our livelihoods since the spread of the coronavirus.

During this time of self-isolating, social distancing and avoiding any activity that involved physical togetherness, we still have somehow come together. There has been perhaps been no other time when not just our whole community but our whole world has been forced to face a new normal, while facing only those at home.

I know that I am lucky. I still have a job that pays steadily, a pretty little roof over my head, sleepy and happy little dogs who make every morning and night a little bit warmer, and artsy activities to keep me busy. I’m a creative, and an extrovert, so the time has both been enlightening and an angsty struggle. When I haven’t been working, I’ve enjoyed many of the things that I too often left behind for other commitments. Reading a book while snuggled on the sofa. Making jewelry. Planting flowers. Cooking. Decorating my house. Going for solo walks while listening to podcasts.

But I’ve missed going out to eat with friends. I’ve missed hugging my grandmother’s neck. I’ve missed brainstorming with my boss in his office. I’ve just missed the energy of people and the vibrancy of a thriving, social community such as ours. There were many days I took my dog, Norman, for a walk through the Marietta Square (my other dog, Penelope, is a little too tiny and old for those long walks anymore), and it was so ominous to see the Square devoid of its usual, happy buzz.

So when Marietta photographer Justin Hadley asked if he could take a picture of me on my front porch for a photography series he was doing called “Six Feet, from Friends,” in which he was photographing local residents at their homes from a safe six feet away, I said, “of course!” Not only would it be nice to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have four legs and does talk back, I was also intrigued by the project – so much so that we were fortunate to obtain the photos and Justin’s story for this month’s cover and the cover feature, found on page 26.

As you can see in that photo above, there was pollen on my porch, Norman needed a grooming and I wasn’t as put together as I might normally have been, but I knew that he wasn’t looking for perfection – rather, a genuine reflection.

One day, we will be together again, in the truest sense. But, until then, I will just try to find my own six feet of normalcy, count my blessings and sweep that pollen.

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