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++check out our Isolation Diaries archives here+++

contributed by: Kelly Carnes, BYT reader, hardworking DC resident, small business owner out of business (Trove AND Carnes & CO), and creator of those Jose Andres votive candles we all want right now. P.S:  If you have an isolation diary or story you’d like to write… email us at [email protected]. We can be alone together through sharing.

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I’m an extra-extrovert. I’d go so far as to say “pathologically extroverted.” I’ve always known that I need people, but this isolation has brought into acute focus how intense this dependency is. Turns out I’m an energy vampire…and I’m starving. Feed me.

(Before I start though, let me first check my privilege real hard. Yes, this energy vampire [e-vamp?] is a white, middle class, able-bodied woman able to stay home during the most epic crisis of our lifetimes. As it turns out, that’s one of the only things I can do to help my fellow humans, and my heart reaches out to all those affected, and those essential workers on the frontlines, as we are all suffering through this separation from normalcy, together.)

I did not shower for you today. I did not wash my hair. I didn’t put on a bra or makeup. And if that offends…well..you’re in my house after all, and volunteered for this wild voyeuristic ride through my emotional hellscape. Welcome to the pain of an extreme extrovert being disconnected from the thing they need most in this world…people. You.

9:03am Wake up. Check my phone even though I know I shouldn’t. Stare at my empty calendar which is usually packed every minute with social obligations. Cringe at the news. Shake my head at whatever the dumpster-fire-in-chief has said at the latest presser. Share what I think will help keep folks informed, as well as inspired. Talk to my cat. Silence. Promptly force myself to go back to sleep for what we are now calling the “morning nap” in an effort to hibernate through as much of this as possible.

10:22am Wake up again. World still sucks. Try to stay in bed as long as reasonably possible using the cat as an excuse, because you obviously can’t disturb your sleeping pet. What are you, a monster? How can I get out of bed knowing I wont meet any new people today? What is the point? The depression sets in. I experience the existential dread of facing another long day devoid of peopling.

11:39am Manage to put on sweatpants and attempt to get my husband’s attention. Turns out he is introverted and only wants to play Skyrim. I married an introvert, great. I’m sorry, Ryan. This is your life now.

12:14pm Try to meditate. Get distracted. Worry about everyone I know. Worry about everyone I don’t know. Wonder when this will be over. Wonder what else I can be doing to help. Give up on meditation, again.

12:19pm Eat cold pizza and stand by the door waiting for the mail carrier so I can interact with another human from a safe social distance. I wear my “fries over guys” sweatshirt for the occasion.

12:34pm Find strength in what the mail carrier brings, an original print by DC’s Cassidy DuHon. I tried to buy as many things as I could from local small businesses before my own collapsed under cancelled events and contracts. Happy to support Cassidy and take solace that RBG is still out there -somewhere- being Notorious.

1:27pm Feel weak again and climb on my husband for attention. My love language is touch so this self-quarantine imperative packs a 1-2 punch. Trying to keep some perspective; it could be worse. Glad I got these sweatpants to live in from creative creative entrepreneur Abbey Boutwell of Everyday Mermaid. Feel lucky I know so many magical creatures and have a loving partner who will put up with me, and this.

1:33pm Work on the candle project to raise funds for World Central Kitchen. Gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to José Andrés’ saintly humanitarian work to keep people fed during this crisis. Am I doing enough? I worry I’m not doing enough. It feels weird that the thing I can do is not do anything at all. Grateful Kodi Seaton designed these prayer-style candles to give me something to do to distract myself from the fact that I am painfully alone.

2:41pm Pull today’s cards. The Hermit. Correct. My BFF’s and I pull cards for our sisterhood almost daily. It always reveals much. I wish there was a spell to make this all go away. I want to hold my sisters. I want them to hold me.

2:47pm Try to distract myself and read about trees and their ability to communicate. I miss other beings so much, I even miss trees. Maybe I can convince my husband to take me out to commune with the trees? Maybe that will satisfy my e-vamp craving to bond with other beings?

3:08pm My sweet spouse takes me to Kingman Island to commune with the trees. I have an ulterior motive–to spring myself upon people, at a safe social distance. There are a few people at Kingman Island, but no one wants to talk, even at a distance, except for the man fishing on the bridge who was excited to tell us he caught a catfish so big it broke his hook. People seem to even be avoiding each other’s gaze, like it transmits the virus. I’m probably freaking them out trying to hypnotize them into looking up and glamor them into interacting with me. Did you know the word “aloha” was designed to share breath between two people? I wonder what this must be like for cultures that connect in different ways than we do.

3:15pm Find a tree decorated with ornaments which reminds me that we weren’t facing this only a few months ago. The world changed so quickly, almost overnight. How long will this last? Forever? Will we still be socially isolating by this holiday season? I attempt to commune with the tree. Silence. I’m not gonna make it. I can’t do this.

4:08pm FaceTime with one of my favorite arts reporters. One of my small businesses is (was?) public relations. She’s been assigned to write obituaries for the foreseeable future. It’s a sobering update. She tells me that I can write this, even though I don’t think I can. We say “I love you” when we hang up. We mean it.

5:32pm Fight the urge to be constantly productive, and find comfort in one of the only rituals that makes me feel better, taking a bath. Yes, of course Jeff Goldblum is supervising, I’m not stupid. He reminds me that “life, uh…finds a way.” I feel marginally better for the first time all day.

6:00pm Start drinking. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t count down to this part of the day. I’ve always been a lush but now I’m afraid my habits are bordering on dependency. I text everyone I know hoping someone will join me for Happy Hour and validate my choice to self-medicate. The ones who text back are likely extroverts too…or they feel sorry for me. I’m clearly spiraling. Sometimes they agree to video chat, even though it simulates work meetings now and feels like work. Is “I’ll zoom with my extroverted friend” a new love language?

How are these tiny screens supposed to stand in for the power of human presence and contact? This is unsustainable. My dog can feel my heart breaking.

6:41pm Pick out a silly hat to wear as friends connect with us for Zoom dates. I am, (or was?) the founder of Trove, the world’s first peer-to-peer costume rental platform. One of the only things that still brings me joy, and makes me feel normal, is playing dress-up in the costume closet. It provides a momentary reprieve from the madness that is slowly setting in.

7:59pm Squeeze the puppies too tight and have a good cry because I’m so lonely it physically hurts in my body. Feel guilty that the worst I am experiencing is crushing loneliness, and the anticipatory grief that it will never end, when others are going through worse. Try to stop policing my own feelings. Fail miserably.

8:11pm Watch Braveheart, again, because it’s my medicine movie for when I’m feeling melancholy. I used to love going to the movie theater to watch movies in rooms full of strangers. What I wouldn’t give for an anonymous crowd now. I’m slowly dying inside. I then watch some of How to Train Your Dragon because it’s the antidote to this feeling of profound loss. God I’m Scottish. (But seriously stop what you’re doing right now and listen to the How to Train Your Dragon theme, you’ll feel better, promise)

9:36pm Miss everyone terribly.

11:55pm Go to bed hoping this is all just a bad dream, knowing it’s not, and that I’ll have to wake up and do nothing with no one, again, tomorrow. Tell my husband, Ryan, “I’ll miss you while we’re sleeping.”

TL; DR

In summary, the struggle is real, for all of us.

Take care of yourselves, take care of each other and check on your extroverted friends. We need you and we can’t wait to be reunited with you, someday…

I love you…I mean it.

Kelly

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