I Think We’re Alone Now. Welcome.

This wasn’t out of pride. I’d simply forgot. When you are used to answering most of your own questions on a daily basis — what will I wear; what do I want to eat; when do I want to leave — the asking muscle gets awfully weak.

In the examining room, I scoffed when the nurse kindly told me most people bring someone because they want emotional support. It wasn’t until an hour later, when I was trapped between the two metal panels of an imaging machine — so tightly that I cried out more than once — and being told not to move as they squeezed my left breast tighter and tighter, that I realized my mistake. I did need someone. Badly.

For a few very long moments, the only person I wanted was my mother. It was a realization that took my breath away, not only because my mother died nearly three years ago, but also because even when she was alive I did not crave her presence.

But of all the people in our lives, our mothers are the ones who are required to show up for us, unconditionally and unasked. The test results came back fine, but I spent the next weeks wondering if I’d somehow become a person who was too good at being alone, and how one went about fixing that.

And now suddenly, I don’t have to. The language of this pandemic is the language of isolation. In her book “The Lonely City,” Olivia Laing writes, “so much of the pain of loneliness is to do with concealment, with feeling compelled to hide vulnerability, to tuck ugliness away, to cover up scars as if they are literally repulsive.” These days, as we are forced to conceal ourselves, we are at the same time required to conceal nothing else.

Even so, I was unprepared for the cacophony of regular voices that entered my world.

Shortly after Governor Cuomo asked us to stay home, I woke up with symptoms consistent with coronavirus (like so many, I didn’t qualify for testing). The daily calls I was already getting turned into twice daily ones. To be outside marriage and motherhood is to be outside most of the rituals available to women, but suddenly I’d been thrust into the epicenter of new ones.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/style/self-care/coronavirus-living-alone.html

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