I call a friend to let them know I’ve read too much news. One hour is fine, but anything more is dangerous. We jokingly say, “Call a friend.” I remember it being connected to a gameshow, but I have no idea why it’s still funny.
Whenever worry strikes, I think of who I know is at risk and when I last contacted them. This is how I go down my list of people to say, “I love you” to in whatever method we use. Some of us share pictures, others books and more than a few music. Sometimes I’m overwhelming; other times they are.
When friends repeatedly ask for a video chat I say yes.
I hate video chats in all their forms.
If I don’t say yes, my cat is going to start speaking English and I’ll never be free to meet friends for anything. My roommate is out of town and, other than chance encounters with the neighbors, this is the closest I get to physical human interaction. Someone on a video chat says she’s thinking about getting a cat because the loneliness is so much. My cat nibbles on my ear and drools.
Focus is slipping at work. For a few hours I am free from all this stress if I have a specific task. Otherwise, I am searching the internet for volunteer groups to join. Everyone is so overwhelmed and organizing is hard in the best of times. So, I write book reviews for friends’ books and hope there’s a tomorrow.
“I assumed there would be a next week.” My message exchanges are all melodrama.
My dreams are of touching someone else’s face. It’s such an intimate thing I want to do again someday.
I only share my nightmares with one friend. We spend hours exchanging every terrible thing that could happen. When we’re finished, we both look relieved.
I fantasize about calling my ex-therapist and saying, “No long distance relationships. Maybe even be careful about long distance friendships. So now what?” I want to be mad at someone about everything and I know she would laugh. My ability to intentionally misdirect my strong emotions was well covered during our years together. I spent this winter battling my ego and my attachment disorders. She would be fascinated to hear what I learned. Memes tell me not to text my ex.
Despite missing so many people, I don’t miss living in Seattle. I give thanks every day I made it back to this city. I still don’t feel like I’ve built the life I want. I’m battling a false feeling I don’t belong here. Even so, if I have to be this degree of lonely, I’m grateful to be home.
When that feeling passes, I check my list again. When I’m done, I reach for a book. I’m currently reading The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Thom Gunn: Collected Poems and The Origins of Totalitarianism. One of these monsters should bring me peace.
In every message about how confusingly tired everyone is, we remind each other we’re stressed and handling trauma. For every meltdown, we hold together.