In January I made the rather rash decision to move in with my girlfriend of only a few months. We found a nice apartment off Montana Avenue and readied ourselves to take a much bigger step than we had perhaps given pause to.

Predictably, as anyone who knows better can tell you, things didn’t work out. She moved out in February. However it was an ugly enough split that it actually didn’t really hurt so much rather felt like the right choice.

A few weeks later the coronavirus hit.

So I was stuck with double rent, which I could afford but it was far from ideal. I found myself living alone, something I hadn’t done in years, in a very strange time. Perhaps a blessing not to be forced into seclusion with another person but like all of us all living alone life became the dictionary definition of isolation.

But I was doing OK.

I noticed as time went on I was making excuses to avoid phone calls and meeting with friends in small socially distanced groups around town. Dismissively I put it down to my way of dealing with things. A month had gone past and I thought it was fine. Increasingly isolated but I had a feeling I was in charge of it.

Then one night I was walking to the alley to dump some trash. My friendly older neighbor with whom I was still relatively unfamiliar had taken her pooch, Buddy, out to pee. It was dark and she hadn’t seen me so as not to alarm her I walked a wide circle and stood against the fence in the light. As she got close we exchanged greetings. We made small talk about how odd the world had become and this and that. Then quite unexpectedly she asked, “ are you doing OK?” with a real tone of inquisitive concern to her voice. I laughed it off and wished her well.

Then I walked to the alley and sobbed for twenty minutes. As a forty-year-old man I haven’t done that since I was 21 and lost my brother in a car crash.

It wasn’t until then I realized I wasn’t OK. I really wasn’t. I vowed instantly to get in touch with my friends and re-establish social connections.

It’s a really hard time to be by yourself even if you’re a person of happy disposition as I am. I know that tragically people are losing their loved ones to this crisis. But there are others we also need to care for. If you’re reading this, reach out to someone and just say hello. Ask if they are OK, it might just be the nudge they need.

David Dawson

Santa Monica

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2 Comments

  1. Really enjoyed your letter and stories and nudges, David

    Recent Zoom sessions I DID NOT WANT to do have included lectures, sessions (previous in-person get togethers), and after two funerals, four shivas, tutor session and family get togethers — It’s a brave new way to SEE everybody’s smiling faces instead of texting phone calls email etc….

  2. Wonderful response! Thank you. It is so important to contact everyone you know because the feelings of isolation may compound each other and drive one deeper into something more unpleasant. let’s all reach out and offer love to everyone we know

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