Place. What is my place? Where do I belong? Now, more than ever, it is challenging to determine what our “place” is. Normally, my “place” would have been finishing my junior year of college, but instead, I found myself thrown back into family life, living at home with my parents and siblings. While physical place has become more fixed, “place” as in role has become more fluid. For example, at school my “place” is to be a student, with friends my “place” is to engage and have fun, and during family time my “place” is to be a sister and a daughter. There is something comforting about familiarity — about knowing where one’s “place” is in the world. COVID has upended that, and as a result, I am constantly reevaluating my “place.”
Having lots of time on my hands, I have been thinking back to my days as a Sweet Reader. The “place” of a Sweet Reader is familiar, it is clear and defined: “to make a connection” and “to find the person behind the disease.” With these goals in mind, I felt confident and self-assured. I loved singing forgotten Broadway tunes with my partner Hal and watching his face light up with pure delight. I loved that I was able to know my “place” in that situation and accomplish something meaningful — to change someone’s life. That feeling of “knowing my place,” even 8 years later, still sticks with me and I return to it often during times like these when I feel unsure. I long for that familiar joy to return, which is why I am grateful that Sweet Readers launched Sweet Readers Connect because not only does it provide a “place” for the partners to come out of their isolation, but also the Sweet Readers to find purpose and fulfillment in the midst of uncertainty.
As I write this, I sit in my favorite physical “place:” my bedroom. It is about 4pm, and the afternoon sun is streaming in, lighting the room. At this very moment my “place” as a friend is sitting on endless Zoom calls, staying connected with my college friends who I have not seen in far too long. Though my “place” seems to change constantly, I am comforted by the different connections I am able to make and maintain in each “place.” In the midst of uncertainty, I hold all my “places” close, still knowing that normalcy will ultimately return.