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With the Shape of an L on Everything

How much darker is loneliness in the time of Covid?

Photo by George Bonev on Unsplash

Loneliness is a bad pet.

Last year at this time I was fostering kittens. When I came home, I don’t know how they knew it, but they’d be waiting right inside the door. When I opened it, they’d run into the hall and down towards the elevator, their steps slowing the further away from me they got, as if it was suddenly sinking in that they were just tiny kittens and didn’t know where they were going, or if there would be food there.

Now when I open that same door loneliness is on the other side like a dark cloud. It starts to blow out into the hallway so I get inside, close and lock the door. I hurry to the lamp and turn it on to soften the landing back home.

My friend has a fireplace that leaked soot all over her house. She had to have the Servpro guys come and clean it off her walls, her belongings.

I love my little condo, I love my collection of my favorite books, the way my friends helped me arrange mirrors above the armoire, even though my kids said it makes it look like I live in an antique store.

But there’s no entertaining, there’s no one to show it to, no letting them sink into the comfort I’ve arranged for relaxation, connection, and tea. I have dishes that are mismatched colors and they look so pretty together, but I can only use one color at a time.

And I’m growing sick of looking at it, the dark cloud of loneliness is sooting all over my apartment. No Servpro guys can help.

Loneliness is like a bad pet, it gets up on the couch where I’m sitting. I tried showing him off but he comes back and back and back.

In the past I could escape for a while. I could go dance, I could meet friends. But loneliness is so ill-behaved lately, if I left he may destroy everything. So ill-behaved that I am chained to the apartment.

He’s not one of those pets that if you start crying he’ll lick your face. He doesn’t care about anybody but himself. If you start crying he’s going to go in the other room and chew something up until you notice.

I teach on zoom, my students are black boxes. I talk to them, but it is a one-way conversation. Loneliness hangs on my shoulders, pushing them down and forward. I feel his weight.

And then, one day, somebody’s little brother presses a button on the computer, turning on the camera, and for a few seconds I see a grinning, shining, toddler face! Loneliness screeches and runs. The faces of others terrify him. That face the reminder that there is still such beauty in this world, smiles loneliness can’t extinguish. That face is Servpro to my heart, I felt like weeping with joy.

I hear on the news the teachers will be getting the vaccine, maybe in February. I count the remaining weeks of social isolation at the darkest time of year. I tell loneliness, “your days are numbered. You’ve got about eight more weeks. I will be dancing in the spring. You can’t stay here.” But I’m doubtful, who would take this bad pet, who spreads his dark on everything?

Inside, there aren’t enough lamps to hold back his dark. But soon enough, out in the world, with nature, friends, and best of all, toddler faces, there will be plenty to clean him out of my life.

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Donna Rucinski

Donna Rucinski

Teach yoga, mindfulness and brain science, author, a pro at amateur real estate transactions, meditations on Insight Timer. Basically, I’d just like to help.