The weight of another locked down Friday night here in the city of Wayne comes creeping in pandemically, robbing me of the simple comforts of the life I once lived, back before this dangerously infectious invasion stole it all away. Friday nights were always about time spent with friends, either passing away the hours in the rhythmic buying of rounds at the bar, or sometimes caught in the mediocre thumpings and halting feedback of some amateur band high up on the small stage, always singing and playing slightly out of tune.
Not that anyone particularly cared, or even noticed, usually being too far consumed in their own weekend dramas unfolding either around the sticky confines of a luckily scored bar table, or through an ocean of texts gleaming and glowing through the dark haze of another hole in the wall.
But tonight, I am stuck in an entirely different hole in a totally different kind of wall. And instead of letting myself be overwhelmed with the depressing thoughts of the things that I am now missing, I am going to change the song and focus on the things I have learned during this past month spent responsibly in socially-mandated isolation.
I have learned that on those occasions when you just couldn’t find the masked time required to go to the store for the necessary essentials, the leftover dregs of red wine lingering from the night before does a fairly decent job of providing the necessary liquid lubrication for the morning bowels of fruity pebbles. Cereal milk is one thing, but cereal wine is an entirely different ballgame.
I have also learned, thanks to the endless hours inside my own infected head and its constant alcoholic companions, that there should be some form of mandated isolation for phones after the consumption of a certain number of drinks. That would help with easing the first fears of the day when you groggily grab your phone, wondering about the electronic damages done the night before.
Sometimes, it is words that were better left unsent, those unconscionable texts sent from within the warming haze of a whiskey infused indifference, when the guards were down for the count, not from the ravages of a nasty virus, but from the effects of my own sadistically selfish stupidity set free in the death of a sober moment. Sometimes, it is the sharing of some pensively beautiful song that sings the tales of my heart or my plaintive yearnings, poaching the talent of other more vocal artists shamelessly to showcase my own naked neediness and the blatantly festering loneliness brought into sharper focus in the early morning overnight hours.
I have found myself writing something nearly every day, rapidly approaching 20000 words that I never could have ever imagined writing. Not when the topics are this ugly and hard. Not when the rest of the world seems to be dying in the horribly regular rhythm of a hastily constructed ersatz ventilator. Not when I constantly question their impact and value, though I feel oddly compelled to still write them all down, all these little wordy bastardized creations of mine- the only children I will ever be able to truly call my own.
I have seen clearly through swollen and hungover eyes just who my real friends are when the chips are down and the masks are up. They reach out to me over text on a semi-regular basis, checking in on my crumbling mental health and sharing kind words of review after reading my selfishly self-promoted ramblings sent their way. They continue to care, despite the exhausting burden of my friendship and their almost certain constant exposure to all sorts of my unedited insanity. And yet still they love me and all I can to is love them right back, even when it’s weird or unexpected.
I have learned with absolute certainty that my feline companions, despite all their furrily positive qualities, are, in fact, unapologetic assholes. I remain convinced that they view me as some moderately retarded feline, barely capable of providing them a decent bath or enjoyable meal. Their constant attempts to murder me daily keeps me on my guard, especially when carrying laundry either up or down the stairs. Why that particularly mundane activity makes biting my ankles so enjoyable baffles me endlessly.
The most important thing I have learned over these past many weeks is just how luckily fortunate I am to have the life that I do, considering they are far too many out there who have far too little. And I will have to remind myself of that more often going forward. Because while life may have so unexpectedly changed in drastically virulent fashion, I am still here and I still get by well enough.
So even though it might be lonely, and numbingly boring, and sometimes so tragically sad, maybe it’s time to stop spending so much time inside my own head.
It can get a little uncomfortably weird in there, anyway.