NEW YORK – “Home is wherever I’m with you,” the song rang out from the speaker. And the tears streamed down my face. In Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ jaunty tune lay my deepest pain. That after the end of my nearly seven-year relationship, I didn’t belong anywhere or to anyone anymore.
Have you noticed how this lockdown life has a way of holding up a magnifying glass to whatever you were dealing with before coronavirus?
In the B.C. era, I was lonely. Now isolation is mandated. My life felt small. Now I am largely confined to 500 square feet. I disliked New York. Now it's the only place I have.
When the relationship ended, I moved back to the United States after 10 years abroad. While it seemed wise to go “home,” it was not quite voluntary, and I struggled. I had truly enjoyed but also romanticized my life overseas. It felt expansive: new territories explored, new languages learned, the possibility of adventure around every corner, even (no, especially) at the grocery store.
Then I found myself trying to slot back in with old friends whose lives had spun in new directions. In the city of my birth, I often felt foreign.
Clearly, others are enduring far greater hardships than I. And yet, perhaps because we are all apart, I have that teenage, no-one-has-ever-felt-like-this-before feeling.
I am not alone, of course. We have been discovered as a cohort reflective of our times, all us women living alone. But, my brain shouts, let me explain to you why my circumstances are unique.
I have sought out friends who are also alone; it feels good to talk about this. But I find myself becoming angry if I find out they are not quite so alone as I am.