At the tail end of last week (or was it last year? I've lost track of the days), it became painstakingly clear that the only person I was going to come into contact with for the foreseeable future was my partner — who I enjoy, but only to an extent. Terrified by the looming apocalypse and desperate for human connection, I made a rookie mistake: I reached out to an acquaintance who I've been rescheduling plans with for the better part of 2020 and asked if they wanted to grab a drink over video chat — a week in advance.
In the seven days since I made this ironclad commitment (she sent a Google calendar invite; there's no going back), the world around us has evolved in unforeseen, chaotic ways. We are now practicing government-sanctioned social distancing. I stopped washing my hair entirely. Coronavirus cases in the United States have surpassed 8,700. Idris Elba tested positive for COVID-19. Vanessa Hudgens was canceled by Twitter! And all the time I've spent alone, bullet-journaling and attempting to like Monopoly, has led me to a startling realization.
I haven't been cancelling on my acquaintance due to our conflicting schedules or the "ebb and flow" of daily life — it's entirely possible that I just don't like her very much.
For a fleeting hour, we’ll take solace in each other’s second-rate company.
But now, there's nothing I can say and nowhere I can hide. She's sending me e-mail reminders with the subject line: Can't wait! Every Instagram story I post, she replies to within seconds. She's waiting for me in the ether, lingering beneath the surface like a bad patch of seaweed.
I turned to my fool-proof, first line of defense: I'm stuck at the office, raincheck? But she knows exactly where I am — self-isolated in my boyfriend's parents' beach house, miles (fine — meters) away from another living, breathing soul — because I've been sharing every minute of my life on social media. (I'm bored! Sue me!)
Next up, a crowd-pleaser: I'm feeling really tired, would you hate me if we moved this back a week? But, like everyone else around the globe (except for those Floridian spring breakers), I've done nothing all day but move from the bed to the couch and then back to bed. What possibly could have been so exhausting — the commute?
In the past, I've claimed to be coming down with a cold. But during a pandemic, crying wolf about your health isn't just ill-advised — it's immoral.
And thus, I'll submit to my fate. At approximately 6:30 p.m., I'll pour myself a goblet of wine and begrudgingly enter the Zoom ID code. We'll compare quarantine horror stories, express disdain for our peers lounging in Prospect Park as if it's just another thirsty Thursday, and confess our very real fear that our loved ones could get sick and perish. I'll pretend the way she chews doesn't make me want to lick a subway seat, and she'll fake a laugh at a couple of my jokes. For a fleeting hour, we'll take solace in each other's second-rate company. Perhaps forcing yourself to follow through is a better option than being alone.
Unless, of course, she reads this article and cancels on me first.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC or NHS 111 in the UK for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.