Stress Test

Me, during a very rough week

Sometimes you feel as if the world is out to get you. There’s no logic to why things just seem to happen; events just hurtle out of control. Sensing doom, a monster rises from within, on the attack. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen. It sure feels great to imagine tearing apart the landscape, though. A giant steel behemoth, flailing arms shredding the mighty oaks, rendering them into useless twigs while feet the size of a city block flatten the ground. Sure, it’s destructive, but isn’t that the point?

That was my last week. If only I could summon the monster within to wreak havoc on the world, at least my inner self might summon a modicum of relief.

So what was it that set forth such dread? Take your pick.

This coronavirus might not’ve affected my physical health, but it’s leveling the world in which I live. While word on the street is there’s tons of jobs to be had, financial assistance seems to be short for those businesses who are trying to stay alive. Never mind the PPP; its funds are exhausted. As a result, I’d been advised that things aren’t entirely stable on the employment front.

I’ve been spending so much time on the computer in an attempt to scrape off a few feet from the mountain of work I’ve yet to complete for said job. The day evaporates in a flash. My eyes, dried out from blue light exposure, manage to focus on the grants I’m writing for only so long. Sure, the computer screen glasses help, but only so much. At the end of the day, there’s barely enough left of me to sit down and work on my own writing.

I received a bill from a visit to the emergency room for stitches – almost $2000. The doctor’s office whose billing it and my insurance company gave up on figuring out who owes what; so they figured they might as well hit me up for it. It’s ridiculous. Had I known, I wouldn’t used Gorilla Glue to shut the gash. And if that wasn’t enough, there appears to be a lump in my saliva gland that may or may not be cancerous.

It really sucks living alone during times like this. It really does. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sympathetic ear to tell me that lump’s not cancerous, or things’ll work out at work, or sunshine and rainbows are forecast for the next forty years?

And yes, I completely understand how many marriages and partnerships are truly tested during the era of Covid. How privacy has evaporated and tempers flared. Divorce rates are sky-high. But not all domestic arrangements are flying off the cliff into the abyss. Many are thriving and surviving.

I’m also not alone being alone. There are millions like me, wondering how much more they can take. I do have friends, good friends, who will drop everything to listen to me. That’s appreciated more than words ever said.

Unless you’re staring at the ceiling, desperate to fall into that elusive sleep, in your bed solo, in your house without others, weathering all the storms, no one will understand the relentlessness of day-in and day-out loneliness.

To perk myself up, I’ve made sure this weekend was as social as I could make it. On my morning walk, I caught up with a neighbor taking her dog on his morning constitutional and we chatted until she reached her house. Made an excuse to go to Phipps to shop and visit my friends there. Had some quiet satisfaction that my old department – Seasonal & Holidays – looked absolutely trashed (with rare exceptions, it sparkled when I was in charge of it). Had an old friend over for dinner on Saturday night. She, too, lives alone. Her company cheered both of us up.

After having quite a lengthy discussion on the merits and demerits of the solo life, we both agreed we most likely would hesitate marrying again (but not rule it out). But she did say something wise. “It’s time we started celebrating life again and exploring the world. We don’t have to go very far – we can see what’s around here to do. Staying home isn’t helping either of us.”

She’s right, of course.

Now that things are opening up and many of us (myself included) are fully vaccinated, and the weather’s warming up, I’d love to live again. I want to be happy and enjoy whatever lies ahead of me. I want to breathe and set myself free of the stress monster. Maybe meet someone along the way. Surely enough people are tired of being alone. I guess if I start embracing the world outside my door, there might be someone looking for me.

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