On Wednesday night, Raúl, Heather and I took part in the closing part of Waypoint, a virtual networking event for travel content writers. In preparation, we did the (now) habitual tidying up the book-case, bringing out the flowers and fixing the lighting to make our homes warm, welcoming and camera-ready for the event.
As time goes by, I realise that maybe virtual events are much less virtual than we had first imagined.
We kicked off with some sangria making. Being currently located far from my usual supplies of vermouth and brandy, the guys around the corner at Bar San Juan in Chorlton came to the rescue. They facilitated some excellent vermouth from the sherry bodega we visit on our trips in Jerez, Fernando de Castilla and brandy from Osbourne located in el Puerto de Santa Maria – last visited on our Andalusia tour at the very beginning of March – how surreal that seems now. Once we had perfected our blend of sangria it was over to Raúl from his flat in Madrid to make pa am tomaquet and banderillas – easy, fun combinations for content writers at the end of the day’s networking. We had time to reminisce over favourite places and travel moments on our trips through Spain before listening to soleá, fandangos and other joys for the soul from Alvaro in Madrid. As someone who usually listens to a lot of live flamenco, I was surprised how affected I was by this intimate concert just for us. It was when we unmuted to applaud that I was aware of a sense of being together while being apart.
There is nothing virtual about this. These are real moments of human interaction that we will look back on fondly. Prior to our socially distanced world, when would we have imagined we’d be opening up our private lives to cook together, say hi to family members with people we had just met and enjoy music together in close company?
There is something invigoratingly real and personal about this in a way that our up front and presencial events cannot be. And while we know that we will travel to our favourite places again, it’s time to celebrate the new real.