In May, Vincent Keenan traveled from Chicago to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a wedding — his first trip out of town since the start of the pandemic.
“Hi there!” he called out to customers at a gas station where he’d stopped on his way to the airport. “How’s your day going?” he said he asked the Transportation Security Administration agent who checked his ID. “Isn’t this wonderful?” he exclaimed to guests at the wedding, most of whom were strangers.
“I was striking up conversations with people I didn’t know everywhere I went,” said Keenan, 65, who retired in December as chief executive officer of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians. “Even if they just grunted at me, it was a great day.”
It wasn’t only close friends Keenan missed seeing during 15 months of staying home and trying to avoid covid-19. It was also dozens of casual acquaintances and people he