I have a tendency to self-isolate. This is the first time it has felt heroic. Before now it felt misanthropic. Now it’s philanthropic! Yay me.
I think my immediate family gets it, and I’ve been blessed with roommates who either know me well enough to get it or don’t know me well enough to want to talk to me at all. Works for me either way. In fact, I didn’t know it was particularly noticeable until the Summer of 2016.
That summer, I had just graduated from the college in my hometown. I didn’t at all know what I wanted to do next, or even particularly how to go about searching. I’m very grateful that my uncle asked me to work for him for a short time, and I packed up a few things and moved in with my Grandparents in Ithaca, New York.
I lived in the side room, and I fell into my time-honored sleep issues. Sleeping in the day, silently screaming at night. If you know, you know. Nothing to write home about, so I didn’t.
What I found out was that maybe it was something to write home about, since a few weeks in while talking on the phone with my mom, she said my Grandma had expressed concerns with how remote I was being. It hadn’t even occurred to me that maybe this seemed unhealthy. So I live in one room, leaving only to use the restroom, make a sandwich, or meet with my uncle/boss. Sounds great to me!
But now that she mentioned it, I was feeling pretty bad actually. And I realised I had almost no one to talk to. My only real social outlets were going to the movies and a pleasant and interesting Tinder conversation I was having with someone I had met in my hometown before coming to Ithaca. Beyond that, I was really alone. I hadn’t even noticed.
If you’re reading this, welcome! If not, thank you. That’s really the trade-off I feel in uploading my writing to the internet. It opens up the ability to talk to you, which I cherish! And yet, it sullies my time alone. Writing? Now that’s isolation! You think this piece is meandering? This is the fifth draft! My first draft I realized too late was written essentially directly to my parents. In my second draft, I went on a tangent about my relationship with gender. I consider that For My Eyes Only for the time being. Apparently while writing the third draft I took a phone call and it seems it was all I was able to really think about afterwards.
My point (?) is that this was a lot of work, to make this for you. I’m not complaining! I’m just saying, you’re a lot needier than I am. When I was the only one reading this, it didn’t have to make as much sense.
One year after that summer in my grandparents’ back room, and I was working the night shift at Target in Chicago, Illinois. I had successfully moved out of my hometown for good. I had successfully found a job. I was successfully paying rent. In a lot of ways, I was an unmitigated success! It was miserable. I still hold the beeping of the Zebra brand barcode scanner close to my Amygdala. I have a sneaking suspicion informed by an educated guess that Target didn’t give one-and-a-half shits about me. Speed is Life. If you know, you know.
I worked at night, and would clock in at 11pm. I’d promptly retreat to the far corner of storeroom C and work on unloading the Household Essentials on my own. We’d have team lunch at 2:30 am, when I would get the chance to relive something I had considered long over and sit by myself in the lunchroom. One time I made the mistake of starting a conversation with someone. I didn’t do that again. And then we’d get back to work until 7am, and I’d get home by 8.
At this time, I had just downloaded a game called Thief, which had come out in the year 2014 and was the fourth game in the long-running Thief game franchise. I was excited to play it, because I had fond memories of playing the third one in high school. I would project the game onto the white wall in the living room, and play for a few hours while my roommates woke up and headed out to work. It was nice to see them.
One of my favorite things about this writing project that I started on Feb 1st, 2018, is that it’s wildly unpopular. Almost no one visits the page, let alone reads more than one piece. I just kissed the tips of my fingers! That’s beautiful, and it gives me hope.
There’s something magical about adding to the garbage pile of the internet. More content to be buried. I like to know I’m in the massive infrastructure of cloud banks and server farms. The only thing that could get in the way of the peace that provides is the thought that I’m joined by readers.
And again, welcome! I’m happy to have you here. But, just you. No one else. If you could keep this project to yourself, I’d appreciate it. It’s just nice to know that you as the reader are essentially insignificant. In the grand sense, cosmically, no one is reading this.
It’s just, when I’m writing this, I’m really talking to myself. And if you know me from in person, you know I take any opportunity to talk to myself. I’m happy to have you, but I must inform you that you’re a second thought.
A few months into the pandemic, I moved back home to Pennsylvania. Oh well.
I’ve been setting goals where I try to go up from the basement every two or three hours for at least fifteen minutes, just to be around people. I usually play a video game, either with someone or alone but in the same room as someone else. Just because I’m with people doesn’t mean I don’t want to be alone. And then, when I’m sufficiently tired of company, I retreat to the basement, where it’s just me and the hum of the dehumidifier. That’s where I wrote this!
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: welcome! I do appreciate you reading. You know, for all my talk about my love of being alone, I’m glad you’re here. These are lonely times, and it helps my heart to know you’re out there, even if I never see you.
It can be freeing to contribute to the growing garbage of our collective work on the internet, but it can also be daunting. There really is a lot of bad writing on Medium alone! I’m glad to know that you (and you alone!) chose to read mine.