Friday, May 15, 2020

Isolation Diary #2

I'm amazed by how well I've done while being alone. Two months without speaking more than a few words person-to-person, and I'm frankly going less to pieces than I generally do when people are around me.
But it's increasingly become apparent to me that there's not a single person in the world I don't miss right now. I would talk to the biggest irritants in my life for six hours about all things life and death, I would hug all the biggest creeps, and I would creepily touch the faces of a thousand strangers just for the human contact.
The loneliness doesn't hit me all that often. I've lived alone my entire thirties, and if my years alone have taught me anything, it's that you either have to spend great amounts of time alone, or great amounts of time with other people, but flitting between the two indiscriminately is your fears' greatest enabler.
Some people just have a gift at being entertaining, it's an ability like solving a rubik's cube, and ultimately as useful. I was a salivating nerd in high school, but have now spent the better part of twenty years conversing at parties, eating and drinking in geometric quantity to forget the artificiality of it all, wondering in what circumstances the very people same people who laugh at every joke would turn on you and gut you like Sarah Palin field-dresses a moose. And once again, the thought hits you, after eight years back in Baltimore, you have a thousand acquaintances you see all the time, but your real friends are still the people from those initial parties you went to as a college student.
Once you leave the parties, you return home to your empty bed and thousand books and the one or two interactions may have potentially gone wrong take their place in line at the back of an endless litany of worries, and in private moments you spend much of your days in various states of horror and shame as all the great and small sins of your life replay on an endless mental movie: some might call it a form of post-traumatic stress, others would call it narcissistic self-flagellation, some might call it paranoia, anxiety, depression, psychosis, I call it Tuesday.
So yes, there is an element of being a shut-in that is endlessly relieving, as the mind quiets itself to once again contemplate ideas other than the moral abomination that is Evan Tucker. When there are no parties, there's correspondingly no anxiety about interactions with the people at them. Music is no longer a necessary constant companion to drown out the anguish, reading long books becomes easier again, silence becomes halfway manageable, even household chores get done occasionally...
But then there are the moments when the realization hits that you are in a cave of pure solitude, and it doesn't hit ever so slightly, it hits all at once - that day, after day, after day, you are a true island, that you will see and hear no one, that you will feel no one's physical presence, that the world is only present for you through a two-dimensional electronic digitality that approximates the real thing through a million pixels emanating from an artificial vacuum.
And that's the moment when you inevitably go to the computer again to get some words down on paper. Even if no one is talking to you, at least you can speak to yourself. Writing is the one place where all is calm and clean, where everything can be controlled, where you feel halfway adequate to the challenge of life's presence.
If you're about to see no one for another three years, this is the purest, most necessary writing you will ever do. You always despaired that no one would ever read what you write, well... now you truly are your own audience. So long as the page chatters at you, you will never truly be lonely.
Talk soon,

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