“How are you?”
Even from 3,000 miles away, I could hear the wry cackle that always brewed beneath my best friend’s words. I adjusted the phone.
“Oh, you know. Situation normal.”
We laughed loudly.
“Honestly, what’s the right answer?” I asked.
“I think you just gave it,” she replied.
It was April 24th. I had been social distancing since March 7th. ‘I was born for this,’ I joked in the beginning. A classic introvert, I’d spent years coming up with convincing excuses to spend Friday nights at home, alone, mainlining peanut butter straight from the jar. ‘I just feel bad for all of my extrovert friends,’ I added.
Throughout March, a persistent, medium-level anxiety infused even my most treasured pastimes. Like other single, middle-class, white women in their 30s, I obsessively consumed the news, processed carbs, and every quarantine-themed offering on Netflix. As I flipped between State of the Union addresses, my 401k balance, and Kate Winslet with an American accent, I couldn’t decide which was most horrifying.
“I’m loving this time,” one of my most extroverted friends confessed in an email in the beginning of April. “It’s fascinating to me how taking away the option to go places and DO things lets me just be present and focus on all the other stuff I love to do.”
I stared at my computer screen. “Loving this time”? This was the guy who needed to install a revolving door on his guest room. This was the guy who helped convince me to move 3,000 miles away, from New Jersey to Oregon, to enjoy the community he and his wife single-handedly created! What is happening?
A few weeks later, my phone lit up with a text from The Second Most Extroverted Person in Oregon.
“How are you holding up?”
“I’m two seconds from drawing a face on a volleyball,” I fired back.
“LOL I’m actually getting used to this,” she replied.
Once again, I stared at the screen. Seriously? What is HAPPENING?
Zoom chats. Virtual marathons. Stress baking. Spring cleaning. John Krasinski.
A roster that would have made me salivate in February now looked a To Do list from hell. (Okay, John Krasinski still looked pretty good.) As I stared at my dog, my lone companion and tragically underpaid therapist, I felt my Queen Introvert crown slide from atop my head, hitting the ground with an unceremonious thud. If a throne crumbles in quarantine and nobody’s there to hear it…
By September, my world was, quite literally, on fire. Record-breaking forest fires raged throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. Entire towns destroyed, lives lost, families displaced. As the air quality in Bend, Oregon reached “hazardous” levels, I cast one last look at my dusty crown and smoke-filled apartment before jumping in the car and flooring it.
To be continued…