Thoughts From a North Carolina Recluse

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that I am not an introvert.

I am a recluse.

I haven’t seen anyone outside of my husband and co-workers since February. Last week a friend – who is pregnant, moving out of state, and turning 40 – and I briefly met up. I was masked, maintained my distance, washed my hands like the germaphobe that I am, and thought it is all too soon. I freaked out about her high risk of high risk status, and she waved it off. “Where I work, no one is masked or socially distanced. They don’t care. I do what I can.” She’s comes from a culture that isn’t as uptight as my German lineage. I was uneasy about it. She needs help staging her house to sell, which I am an expert at, and of course offered to help. I’ve decided she is the only person I’m willing to go into another house for at this time, mostly to help her move. And to keep both of us safe, I’m willing to stop it there.

My husband, who has at least 12 pack years from smoking, asthma, and high blood pressure, is a regular among the ER staff. I hate how this point in time has caused my anxiety to spike over the simplest interactions, but I need to keep him safe too.

Caseloads are skyrocketing here in North Carolina.

I’m so far out of the loop I’m not even sure if our church is still meeting. I have no plans to return to corporate worship anytime soon.

The ladies at work go to South Carolina to get their nails done, as our southern neighbor is much more lax. I’ve spoken to several friends who have regular playdates for their kids as the moms chat, a lot of them are hosting dinner parties, and showing up at church unmasked. The general consensus is we need to get used to this virus, live alongside it. Many – and rightfully so – are sick of the social distancing, not going to church, not worshiping corporately, and not seeing friends. And I totally get that, as Christians we are especially called to be in community

And yet, here I am.

But that’s the sticking point – everything is opening, but nothing in terms of epidemiology has changed. Only our patience tolerance has changed. And a scientist, that’s a terrible reason to ignore the precautions.

We are going to do this pandemic the old fashioned way: let it burn itself out.

I found myself on my enclosed porch pondering all this: it could be this time next year by the time I see friends on a “normal” basis. One of the coffee shops here has my all-time favorite and rare coffee drink – an affogato – and I don’t know when I’ll get one. It could be next summer when I meet up with someone for drinks and dinner downtown. The Europe trip I had planned might be next year or the year after that – I might not leave New Hanover County for an entire year. It’s mind blowing for someone like me who goes off adventuring at the drop of a hat. I haven’t quite come to terms with that yet.

As a recluse, I am 100% okay with that if it means it keeps people – my friends and my community – safe.

The weirdest part of all of this is I don’t miss any of it. Sure, there are a handful of friends I’d love to spent time with vis-a-vis, but not going to restaurants, events, church; I’m surprised at how much I don’t miss any of it. I’m happy being alone.

And it scares me a little about what that says about me.

But I am, after all, a recluse.

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