L.A. Affairs: Being single is bad enough. Will I spend this apocalypse alone?
I remember being really disappointed by the Keira Knightley and Steve Carell movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” Maybe it was because I couldn’t buy them as a couple given their age difference, or maybe it was her acting (“chin acting,” as I’ve heard it called). Or maybe it was that I, an independent college student, had taken myself to see it alone in 2012 and had to sit in an auditorium of families and couples and friends, all of us crying over a movie whose premise is basically: How not to die alone.
I ran into a friend on a recent morning, both on our daily walk around Echo Park Lake — with plenty of social distancing involved. He remarked that it’s hard to wake up every day and not feel like it’s the end of the world. I, of course, emphatically agreed.
He then went on to say how the self-quarantine has been fun overall because he lives in a big house with four of his best friends and three of them have girlfriends, so there’s always like seven of them just chilling. They’d just enjoyed this epic meal with homemade ravioli and Greek salad made by two of the guys who are Greek, “so it was pretty dope.”
I thought about telling him about my last meal — homemade tortillas and vegan walnut taco “meat” with vegan cashew cheese and some salsa I had sitting in the back of the fridge.
To be honest, it didn’t feel all that dope.
It felt lonely.
And maybe in today’s coronavirus climate, that’s a good thing.
This is the closest it’s ever felt to the end of the world to me, and I am indeed living it out alone.
It’s the exact feeling that made me cry in the theater by myself in 2012. And it’s the exact feeling that made me cry while trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle Saturday night. Alone.
I let myself have another little ugly cry and then immediately called Isobel. We’ve known each other since kindergarten. We talk almost every day, especially now, to check in on each other, both our mental and physical health, and we always ask about each other’s parents.
And every time she asks I get to tell her how well my parents are doing, going on daily walks and cooking a lot — my mom has perfected a sesame-ginger stir fry — and enjoying their cocktails. (Red wine for my dad, a cosmo for my mom.) They make 30-plus years of marriage look pretty great.
If anything, this shelter-in-place period just means they get to spend more time together (except for the part about my dad working from home and closing the door to the office, which upsets their elderly cat, so she meows at the door, forcing my mom to take her upstairs and sit with her — all of which I hear about on the phone regularly).
Staying home this weekend? We’ve got some ideas. Take care of your plants, make your house cozier, help neighbors and start planning your next trip.
But as for feeling lonely or isolated, depressed and hopeless — I haven’t heard either of them mention anything close to those words.
I haven’t heard anything close to those words from friends living with their friends or those in serious relationships, either.
It’s probably hard to be around the same people day in and day out, don’t get me wrong. But what’s so bad about being socially distanced from everyone except the person you love? Not being able to be closer than 6 feet from your friends or strangers is awful, sure.
But still being able to hug and touch and be held by and be intimate with your significant other probably lessens the blow a bit.
Designer and lifestyle influencer Justina Blakeney doesn’t have a therapist and that’s OK; she can talk to her tillandsia.
This is a bizarre time in the history of the world to be single. Isobel described it as being in the prime of our lives and wasting it sitting on the couch. That made me cry too. Not out of vanity or the fact that I’m perhaps wasting my youth — OK, mid-20s — indoors.
But because I’m doing it alone.
Because anyone I was semi-excited about seeing before coronavirus is a distant memory. Because I don’t know when the next time is that I’ll be able to safely hug someone. Let alone kiss someone. Or more.
I fostered a dog last week out of desperation, and he seems to already love me and wants to cuddle. But I can’t hold a conversation with him. He won’t ask me out to dinner or hold my hand walking down the street. And if this is truly the end, he won’t understand when I whisper, “I’m really glad I got to know you” in his ear, a single tear falling down my face, my chin quivering as the bright light of the apocalypse slowly consumes us ...
And maybe that’s OK. Because as much as it does feel like I’m living the final scene of “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” I know that I’m not.
And as much as it feels like this is never going to end, I know that it will.
I woke up this morning with the little guy snuggled against my leg. His name is Mr. Finley. He’s a 10-year-old terrier mutt, and I’ve already decided there’s no way I can ever let him go. I can’t say this new pal is a cure-all (he puked on the rug yesterday), but he’s my reason to go beyond just sitting on my couch waiting for this pandemic to end. The upside to all of this is that Mr. Finley now has a permanent home.
And he’s warming my cold, lonely, self-pitying heart day by day.
Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary: L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles — and we want to hear your story. You must allow your name to be published, and the story you tell has to be true. We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.
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