While working from home, I’ve been hyper-aware of my senses.

I see my hands crying for another round of lotion, the man taking his fifth lap around the neighborhood on his golf cart and the robin’s nest balancing precariously on the front porch light.

I hear the neighbor kid scream in the distance, the hummingbird buzz around the hanging potted flowers and the breeze rustle the wild grasses in the empty lot across the street.

I taste the lingering remains of my black coffee, a smidge of leftover chicken alfredo and a craving for a honeycrisp apple.

I feel the wicker chair propping my elbows up, the concrete slab of a porch scratching the soles of my feet and wisps of loose hair tickling my neck.

I smell the freshly cut grass, my sweatshirt that hasn’t been washed in a week and a longing for something more.

OK, that last one’s not a tangible smell, but it’s still just as real to me these days.

Picture this: A college graduate who never thought she’d live with her parents again spends three months in her hometown. An extrovert who thrives in the vicinity of other humans must now limit her social interactions. A recently hired journalist who can’t wait to move to a new town settles for introducing herself through Zoom meetings and phone calls, physically separated from the place she wants to fully invest herself.

I’m alone more than I used to be when living in a dorm hall. And when I clock out from work at the end of the day, I find that the hobbies I used to wish I had time for don’t have the same appeal.

Depleted. That’s the only word I can conjure up to describe this feeling.

Just like the purple and silver star balloons we sucked the helium from, crinkled up and tossed aside weeks after my virtual graduation ceremony.

On one of my mindless scrolls through Instagram, this line made me stop: “If things are messy, you’re probably learning a lot.”

I may be in a rut now, but this isn’t the end of my story.

I’m looking forward to walking along Broadway Street and asking shop owners about what’s new in their world. I can’t wait to plop down at the laundromat and be fully present to anyone willing to share a piece of her life with me. I’m blown away by the upcoming opportunity to meet new people in an unfamiliar environment.

So, shoot me an email. Tell me your ideas, hopes and fears. Your dreams, pet peeves and quirks. I want to hear your story.

This life is bound to be a little messy, but we’ll learn and grow through the process. By getting to know those around us, we begin to feel like we belong in the community. By listening to others, we’re able to connect because of our humanity.