Amid the myriad ways we can create community, connection, and companionship—from the virtual landscape of social media to the analog experience of cross-country family visits—we often find ourselves profoundly lonely. Some of us desire relationships yet, heartbreakingly, can’t negotiate the push and pull of proximity and distance.
In this issue’s fiction, characters experience the paradox of needing to connect with one another yet finding comfort in isolation. While working to foster relationships among her animal charges, a zoo employee struggles to forge a relationship herself with a coworker in Joseph Horton’s “Shoot the Tiger.” Mary Lynn Reed’s “The Icefield” brings us a mathematician deeply disconnected from her profession who finds solace instead in art and the natural world. In “Glad You’re Here,” by Susan Jackson Rodgers, a woman recovering from alcoholism works through the trauma of an accident with the help of her close friend, also in recovery. And in Polly Rosenwaike’s “Welcome to Your Family,” two sides of a family gather together for the holidays to celebrate the birth of their newest member, though each of them is profoundly detached from the others: “Each person is divided into parts they allow others to see and parts they try to hide.”
In nonfiction, Sonya Bilocerkowycz attempts to better understand her students, her father, and her extended family through books, literature, and language in “Samizdat: A Private Collection.” Peter Selgin shares his memories of his friendship, initially forged through a mutual love of swimming, with Oliver Sacks in “Swimming with Oliver.” And in “Rideau,” Suzannah Showler writes about connecting with her Canadian culture as she recalls commuting to school by ice skating along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.
Whether you’re reading this issue alone or in a crowd, electronically or in paper form, I hope you’ll discover a story, essay, or poem that speaks to you and makes you feel part of something simultaneously intimate and infinite.