About a third of the way through 2020, I attended a legal (then) outdoor gathering where I realized I might have a problem on my hands moving forward.
Out of all the people there, the one person I had never connected with in that magical, soul-friend manner that we all love so much was the one person I found myself standing beside, awkwardly.
Everyone else was visiting and laughing with each other a few feet away, you know, how other people do when you are not. They’re so happy and so loud.
“Who are you again?” she asked me.
Her question did two immediate things. It relieved me of any guilt I had for feeling bummed out, because we had been attending the same group for many months by then. And I realized she was also thinking How did I get stuck with you?
I believe one of us could have actually said those words out loud, and that was way back in Chapter 2 of this thing. Look how far we’ve come.
I’m afraid that after a year or more of isolation and the teeniest of bubbles, I might have lost the ability to self-regulate. Can I still edit myself? Will I now say whatever I am thinking…something I’m already accused of doing.
Have I forgotten the quiet nods, the role the eyes play in encouraging others in chit-chat (note: not rolling in impatience. Brent tells me he can practically hear my eyes roll, I can do it so vigorously, apparently, according to him). What of the subtle pivots of topic we do when we just can’t talk about that thing for a minute longer, so we shift to the other thing so gently that the talker doesn’t even notice?
What if I can’t even sit through my own dinner parties anymore when we’re allowed to have them again and I stand up and say, “Okay, it’s time for you all to leave.” What if halfway through roasting the chicken I’m going to serve, I just slide down and sit on the kitchen floor and give up, because I’ve forgotten how to do everything. For Easter this year, the second one with just Brent and I alone, I roasted a turkey, and that was it.
It was just the turkey. He just shrugged.
Basically, I’ve fallen apart. Back at the beginning I viewed myself as a food warden, and everyone in my house, especially Brent, was my food prisoner. I would cook well and healthy and we would exit this thing feeling and yes, looking, fabulous. A friend called me in those early days and said she had shifted to comfort food and was baking bread and pies, and I told her that that very moment I was making a pizza with a chickpea crust. “Oh, you’re a lot better than I am,” she said. And I felt good because in that moment I secretly thought so too.
Now, I could just sit down and eat a bag of marshmallows. I really could. I think I might.