Half a Year in Isolation

A reflection by MJ Sullivan

Something I’ve noticed since the pandemic is that I’m literally never alone, ironically

It’s never quiet

There’s people and a felt presence always in my house

So much so that I stay where no one can go unless they ask for permission

I cloud my head with music or choppy digital voices or movies

So much so that I feel like I don’t have my own brain anymore

I even go to sleep every night and wake up listening to the same playlist, just for peace of mind

In between two songs last night, during the 2 seconds of silence I get every 3 minutes, I heard the crickets. I paused my music, hearing them in surround sound

I believe silence has a noise. It’s a slight hum in your ears, that for me when left too long turns into a ringing

During isolation, everything is right in front of me. Music in my ears, phone in my face, bed on my body

I miss the distance. I miss the more than 20 feet in front of me. I miss the tall skyscrapers or the open road or large mountains. I miss physically bumping into people on the streets, I miss sweaty white men’s armpits in my face at a concert, I miss being sardined with every type of person in a small metal tube under the biggest city in this shitty country

Everything now is so pointed. It’s all or it’s nothing. It’s hanging out with my family, or being completely by myself in my room. It’s seeing all my friends over zoom, and as soon as it’s over the room fills with absence until I feel like I’m drowning in it. I’m a sucker for a spectrum, or a grey area, and I miss it more than I can say

The idle musing of a nearby couple at my favorite coffee shop, where my nose fills with different flavors of bean water and my ears with the sound of the clacking of my own keyboard. The blaring shreds of a guitar and ripping vocals at the DIY show my band plays, followed by a soft “thank you for coming” by our sincere and soft spoken frontperson. The conversation you strike up with a person at the shitty college bar, the feeling of your lips on theirs with no consequence, the taste of their gin and tonic

I miss anonymity. I miss being a face in a crowd your eyes might glaze over instead of being forced upon you as pixels shown through blue light into your eyes. I miss the inbetween. There’s just so much this, and so much that, that I just crave thit or thas

It’s a small thing to consider, but I was wondering why everything seemed so overwhelming when in reality “little” is happening. But I’M happening. All the time. Too much. The outside world gave me an escape from me. I learned healthy coping mechanisms for when “me” was too much. They mostly relied on the world around me, hanging with a friend, driving my car, sitting in a coffee shop, seeing a live show, skipping around a target. Things that were once leisure are now essential, or obsolete. Things that were inconsequential now have massive consequences

When you have depression, or other mental health issues, they tell you to move, or go outside. Ironically, the pandemic has been both so much more easy, and so much more difficult for people who are regularly sad. On one hand, staying inside for days on end for me is incredibly easy, as I do it often and generally unpromptedly. So glad I could be a hero for just giving in to my own destructive tendencies

On the other hand, staying put goes exactly against everything I’ve worked for and been taught. How can something supposed to protect me be so evil in return?

I haven’t broken down in 6 months about the current state of the world, and I think that’s mostly because I’m numb. The ringing in my ears is deafening now, as the crickets have stopped and my toilet has finished its flush. I don’t know what to do or where to go from here, but I guess, no one else does either, right?



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