It wasn’t too late at night, maybe six or seven. There was a warm breeze slowly moving into the unfinished room, and the sun was peeking behind a family of trees huddled together nearby. A soft, orange glow painted the room, and I could feel the heat of the night on my face. It was early September, and summer hadn’t quite yet died out. I could smell the faint, alluring scent of a barbecue nearby, and I stopped to soak in the last remnants of the sunset.

“Solely in the world of languages is the amateur of value. Well-intentioned sentences full of mistakes can still build bridges between people,” wrote Kato Lomb in her 1970 book Polyglot: How I Learn Languages. Lomb was one of the most renowned polyglots and interpreters throughout history, and throughout much of her career she sought to understand the brain of the polyglot.

In my senior year of high school, I was ensconced in solitude – not so much in an angsty “pity me” way, but rather in an “I can’t wait to get out of here” kind of way. I would purposefully push other people away to avoid making any sort of human connection. Mostly, however, I was grasping at the idea of a future where I could meet like-minded people and be able to establish real connections. The more that I went through high school, the more I realized I didn’t have those connections; I had acquaintances with whom I would share an occasional laugh – acquaintances who would sometimes refer to me as their “gay best friend.” Dynamics like these were what really deterred me from meeting people.

Currently, it feels like I haven’t truly interacted with another person since before the pandemic. While I now attend classes and go to work in the morning, something still seems off; I feel a profound disconnect from those around me, and while I could pretend like this experience is unique,  I know that it’s not. Especially after so many months of social distancing, it feels as though we have forgotten how to be human.