It's been nearly 13 years since I moved to New Zealand from the opposite side of the world.
That's 13 years' worth of missing birthdays, Christmasses, Easter, graduations, births and deaths, of seeing the world I knew up close continue to happen from afar, without me.
In many ways, I feel like I've been training for this lockdown my whole adult life.
In the past week alone, I've had my mum dictate lockdown recipes to me via WhatsApp, had my parents entertain my toddler over Skype, my aunt updating me on my grandma's health via Facebook Messenger video call. I've sung happy birthday to at least two people within a week, using different apps.
I have had my morning coffee chatting on WhatsApp Video with my best friend in Portugal.
These are all normal activities in my life but they have been happening a lot more often lately, because we all want to check in on each other, because we're all finding ourselves with a bit of extra time in our hands, and because we've suddenly got to keep virtually in touch with people we used to be able to meet up with.
A few hours after the morning coffee with the family in Lisbon, I had an afternoon drink on Zoom with my friends who live in the same New Zealand town as me.
I've never been one to pick up the phone and call someone just because, but now I do. I've found it's not really "just because" either, and it never was. We don't need to meet up physically for me to show I care - and since I can't show I care over a coffee in a crowded cafe, I show it on Zoom.
Not showing we care, however, is never an option.
I'm not alone in this. New Zealanders, in general, are absolute pros at handling the heartache that comes from physical distance.
Back in the golden days when we were able to sit around big tables with groups of friends, the New Zealand-born friend was almost always outnumbered. And even if there was a New Zealand-born friend, the likelihood that his parents or grandparents had migrated here was always quite high.
Unlike many other countries, where entire generations stay put in the same city - sometimes the same village, the same house - for decades, and the one who moves abroad is the weird one, New Zealanders are used to the heartache that comes with having to be away from loved ones.
For some people, the feeling of emptiness and loss over missing a birthday celebration will be new - but most New Zealanders are very familiar with it.
Whether because we migrated here and left loved ones in other countries or because we have loved ones who set off on their own overseas adventures, we know this pain well.
Portuguese people have a name for this feeling - "saudade". It's a word unique to our language that has no direct translation into any other.
"Saudade" is this feeling you've no doubt been feeling these days. This longing for what's missing, the heavy weight of its absence, the wishful thinking about times to come, when we will get to feel whole again. It's grief and desire, longing, nostalgia and melancholy all in one.
But while the word for it is unique to Portuguese language, the feeling has never been more universal.
We've all had the "hey, it's already your birthday here" conversation. We start the year with the same old joke about how we're already in the new year and they're not. We use our fingers to count the hours until they're awake, we have to remember to pop greeting cards in the post days in advance to make sure they reach their destination on time. We set our alarms to the middle of the night so we can call loved ones in the middle of their day.
Migrants (or, if you want to be fancy, expats) know the painful feeling of social isolation - and their families, even if they stay behind - are well familiar with it too.
And while we know that there's nothing on this virus-infected planet that can ever replace the hug of a loved one, we also know that we can show love and care, even if we have to do it via a screen.
Of course it's not the same. There's no social app that will ever replace the feeling of a hug. But the feelings we're used to feeling are helping all of this feel a little less foreign.
But hey, these are weird times so I'm going to make them weirder by sounding extra positive: there are some upsides to this whole thing too. I, for one, have never seen so much of some friends, now that they're only a click away - and somehow, whether it's the whole camera-on-the-face thing or the circumstances we're living in, the truth is that we've had some deep meaningful conversations that wouldn't happen in the noisy pub. Because we're all so openly anxious about the times we're living in, our chats have moved beyond the "how are you? Yeah, mate, all good, you?" level and onto bigger, greater things.
There's also something that feels a bit special, almost intimate, about seeing everyone in the comfort of their own home, looking their most relaxed. As much as I have been enjoying #formalfridays, I can also see the bright side of a Zoom call that includes my friends' pets, their homes when they haven't been tidied for people to come over (come on, you know you do it too), or seeing them in the t-shirt they've been wearing all day.
There's a comfort that comes from infiltrating their homely scenes, rather than putting on a jacket and heading to the pub.
It doesn't replace the hug but, right now, not hugging people means keeping them safe - and that's what love is all about.