Great. This should be easy.
I love to write about journeys. I’ve written many blog posts about places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen while traveling. But ironically, these last few weeks stuck alone at home with nothing but my own spiraling thoughts and endless hours of being alone; this is this journey that has been the most taxing and life altering, this journey into isolation.
Never in a million years would I have predicted this, nor do I think anyone else could have. Looking back to the not so distant past thinking about how excited I was to move to a new country, a new continent, and start teaching at a new school. I was giddy with the anticipation for so many new experiences.
Now I find myself sitting in my very small, perfect for one person who was going to be out working or enjoying the city most of the time, apartment. And I can’t help but wish I had done it slightly differently. Living alone is all well and good until there is a pandemic, trapping you in your home with no human interaction outside of a screen. Yes, there have been happy hours, house parties, Netflix Parties, and virtual daily workouts. It’s not like I don’t see at least one person every single day. But seeing someone for 30 minutes through a screen is not the same as sitting and talking with friends in person.
Not to mention the fact, it’s now evident I’ve NOT been serious enough about learning Spanish. This has made my limited interactions with the Amazon delivery guy quite painful and awkward. Again I ask myself, why didn’t you pay better attention in Spanish class in high school!?
If you were wondering, no there are no social distancing walks here or drives around town to get out of the house. So crossing the street to the trash bins has become quite the adventure and a new favorite activity. Trash, groceries, doctor or pharmacy visits. That’s it. That’s all you get. Unless of course you are the lucky owner of a dog. Then you have the privilege of going outside to walk them. I totally understand the reasoning behind it all. It keeps us all at home, safe and healthy. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
I have managed to find little projects and an endless stream of documentaries and reality TV to keep myself amused when I’m not spending hours making virtual learning videos for my class. I now have some time to tackle hobbies and projects that have laid dormant, taking a side seat to exploring and all the socializing I was doing after moving to a new city. But despite the free time, (this week in particular during Semana Santa) the isolation has seemingly zapped my energy and motivation to do anything. Thanks Netflix for putting out a bonus episode of Tiger King. And Bravo, I see you over there with your new RHONY season. These are the real winners in my life right now.
This journey into what will be months of living alone, truly alone, no roommates, no family, no beloved Darcy (my dog), has taught me quite a bit about myself.
For one thing I am not, I repeat, not an introvert. To think that I ever at one time thought of myself that way seems crazy. I crave being with others, especially now knowing that I can’t.
Pets are a cure for loneliness. Selfishly I made the choice not to bring Darcy along to my move to Spain. I wanted the freedom to travel and explore (or at least for the first two years) without being tied down to taking care of a pet. When I think of the hours of snuggles and walks we took while I was living alone at home, I can’t help but think how much I would kill to have her here with me now.
I should have just bought the damn cooking things! I like to cook. No, actually I really love to cook. Finding new recipes and trying them out, that used to be my thing at home. Over time I had amassed quite a collection of cooking and baking must haves. Le Cruset dutch oven, bread machine, hand me down Kitchen Aid mixer. I had it all. And then I moved. And I decided not to rebuy. And now I regret it.
But what I have really learned about myself is I am also stronger than I thought. When my crazy mood swings find me crying on my couch I don’t let it take over. Is it nice to have a good cry? Absolutely. But I know this isn’t forever.
But even through this horrible time there are moments of light. Each night at 8pm without fail, everyone goes to their balconies or windows and clap to show support for all essential workers. It can’t be said enough how amazing these people are who go to work each day, putting their health and lives at risk. And the way the neighborhood has come together has allowed me to meet neighbors, albeit from a distance, that I haven’t met since I moved in.
I am resolute in my decision to continue my time in Spain. I have created a family of friends here. I have a life here. I feel myself here.
This isolation journey is not over yet. And with each, two more weeks extension, who knows when it will be. What I do know is, I will make it through this journey, even if it kills me.