I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this, but I’ve been spending too much time alone. There’s lots to be said about the solitary life, such as it creates self-reflection, gives one the chance to clear out the basement, or cook odd food combinations for dinner, like split peas and licorice. Mind you, not that I’ve tried…
The day passes at a rate separate from time. Once minute I sit down to work and suddenly the sun is sinking over the mountain. A day evaporated right before my eyes, yet it seems little to show for it.
For reasons I can’t seem to determine, I’ve withdrawn myself from everyone. It’s beyond the COVID-19 isolation. Early on, I chatted with my friends as we laughed at ourselves trying not to panic. And when we did flip out and descend into hysterics, we’d calm each other down and reassure ourselves it’d be okay as long as we masked up and social distanced. And for a while, that was true. Come the summer, I gained the courage to go for morning walks and swim in a friend’s pool. Things almost felt human again.
Until the autumn, when COVID-19 roared back with a vengeance.
There’s the friend who’s married with an energetic but elderly husband who I’ve yet to call. We were all close once. Another friend from the city who rarely a week went by without some kind of communication. Nothing. Even my two closest friends I’ve yet to have any meaningful conversation. I can’t seem to pick up the phone and ask how they are. Or what they’re probably not up to. It seems they’ve forgotten about me too, and who can blame them? I’ve been a lousy friend. They have their own worries, and I’d not be surprised if they gave up on me.
I’ve let other things slip by too. The car needs an oil change, even if I haven’t driven it very far. Keep forgetting to make an appointment. I have a follow-up with my doctor. Not frightened about going there, but I can’t seem to book a time. Movies I want to see on TV somehow never get watched. That basement is crying to be cleaned, especially since I moved here three years ago and a ton of boxes still sit there. My waffle iron is lurking somewhere, but I’ve contemplated buying a new one because it’ll be easier than searching for it.
Dwellling and staring take over sometimes. Inertia holds my body in one place. That couch of mine is especially good at it, being so cozy and all. When I do watch TV, I can’t seem to lift myself off of it and go to bed. Instead, I take my phone and read through stories posted in the New York Times, Apple News, even Twitter and Instagram. At least it seems other people are having something to do and I vicariously peek into their lives that seem so much more than what I have.
Don’t worry, I’m not suicidal or anything. I don’t know what I am. I haven’t exactly given up, but I haven’t moved forward. It’s this damn isolation. It’s a disease that creeps into you, holding you down against your will, slipping inside your soul and wearying you. Every day’s so much like the one before it, it’s impossible to make a distinction.
My daily routine starts by taking a 5K walk and after, lift weights and work out with tension bands. Then breakfast, usually shredded wheat and blueberries. Decaf, too. Around 11:00 I’ll have some cashews and maybe a banana. Lunch consists of a salad. Dinner, served between 6:00-7:00 pm could be anything, but usually taken from a batch I’ve made on Sunday to last me part of the week. Through all that, I work from home, alone, with the occasional phone call and daily Zoomers. At least I earn money, and for that I’m grateful. Truly grateful.
In the evenings I’ll write, working on my second book. Usually I can concentrate pretty good on that, especially with the characters I’ve created. They have such a rich life that I can only envy. Sure, it’s all my invention but I’ve got to get my enjoyment somewhere. But if I watch television, I feel guilty for not writing and beat myself up over it. Again, no explanation why. Before you know it, bedtime beckons. My head sinks into the pillow as I drift off, headed towards a netherworld filled with bizarre dreams.
I suppose what’s getting to me the most is the blandness that’s overtaken me. I used to be so much fun. I looked forward to every day. Now I see the weariness in my face, the jawline becoming slack, the eyes a bit darker. Somehow, I managed to survive my parents’ illness and deaths, my husband leaving me, losing my job and having to move all within eighteen months. But this? I can’t describe it. Sometimes I cry, but it doesn’t mean anything. There are so many others in dire straits and have suffered deeper losses I can’t even fathom. I am grateful for what I have and appreciate how quickly that can change.
Hang in there. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. It looks like you live in a beautiful place. Spring is coming, birds will sing, flowers will bloom, and you’ll find yourself again, I’m sure.
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Being alone is tough. That shouldn’t be underestimated. Better days are coming soon though.
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