The rides home are the hardest. Fresh off the image of my grandparents’ melancholy faces and my cousin’s gloomy wave behind the living room window, I stand with my mom in the driveway and hide a frown under my mask. I look up at the sky under the guise of observing its color while willing the tears back.
My family used to see each other every week — games, pizza, the whole deal. Now, our relationships are like transactions in the Agora; except it’s not the Agora, it’s a quiet parking lot at 6 p.m. in a suburban neighborhood. There isn’t much talking beside a sniffle behind a mask, a terse thank you, and the awkward shuffle of feet because we want to hug each other — to revel in the distance that has wedged itself between us — but can’t. The flicker of headlights as we back out from the driveway is our new goodbye.