Dear Emma,

There is a difference between being lonely and being alone. For the next two years, we are all going to feel so terribly lonely, and while we might be alone in isolation, you must remember that there are millions of people on the other side of your wall breathing, and crying, and grieving just the same as you.

You will be pulled from your life now back to the one you tried to leave behind. But maybe it was a good thing, because maybe you didn’t really want to leave it behind at all. I think, looking back on it, that it was a very Western idea that you need to move forward, to grow, to prosper, to find success in a metric of fame and money, and to do all of this you must move to America. So, when you go back home to Australia, you will feel relieved in a way. You will feel as if you have been set free from the factory line of pipe dreams.

The relief that you feel will soon be accompanied by a sense of loss. You have lost your friends from home by moving away and will lose your new friends by finally coming home. There will be a deep feeling of displacement, as if you don’t truly belong anywhere anymore. All the roots you once put down have been torn out, leaving you with nothing to hold onto. Just know that you will put down new roots and you will have people to hold onto if you just reach out to them and ask for the help you need.

Despite all of this, you should remember to return to nature in any moment you can because the beauty and vastness of the land around you will keep you grounded when you feel untethered. What a great privilege it is to be able to feel the movement of trees and wind and water when the rest of the world feels so still and stale.

Be gentle with yourself and show love to the people around you. They feel alone too.

I don’t know if I quite understand yet the ways the pandemic has changed things for me. But I know that it has changed things for everyone and knowing that my grief for the life I once had is shared across the world makes me feel less alone. I hope you feel this now, too.

With all my love,