I haven’t been writing.I write, generally, in fits and starts. Some weeks, I can’t stop writing. Others, I can’t start. My writing often is barometric: I write when I’m conscious of my feelings. I write when I feel good, and when I feel bad. I use writing to discharge emotional energy of all sorts, of all valences.
Lately, I have been gliding through my days mostly numb. I simply can’t tolerate the mixture of sadness, fear, and rage that courses through me most of the time. And often, what nourishes me, what keeps my wheels on the tracks of life is a combination of social, intellectual and sexual stimulation.
An extrovert, I derive energy from others – from their thoughts, their laughter, their bodies, their touch. For nearly a year now, I have been starved.
Many of us thrive in lockdown, freed to read, write, play games with our loved ones, cook, eat, walk, etc. Others of us struggle a bit more. I find myself firmly in the latter category.
I long for incidental contact with distant acquaintances. Awkward fist bumps with building porters, friendly nods exchanged with neighbors, brief appreciative lustful eye contact with strangers. Laughter around big tables. The energy of new acquaintances. Energy and friendship and kindness and love flowing through the incidental and intentional touch of handshakes, hugs, caresses, taps and the like.
When my shoulder presses against the shoulder of another on the subway, I feel not claustrophobia but vitality, appreciation, compassion, and love.
When I see a stranger’s face, I delight in imagining that person’s story – their family, their work, their joys and their sorrows. I imagine myself a connoisseur of mouths. Not just as it relates to fellatio, but as it relates to everything. I often infer an entire biography from the nuances of a person’s facial expressions over just a few sentences. I haven’t seen the mouth of a non-sociopathic stranger in more than nine months.
In 2020, I cried more than I have in any year since I learned to talk. My tears flow easily, and near constantly. I’ve missed people I didn’t know mattered to me, and I’ve missed experiences I previously misapprehended as nuisances.
As 2021 starts, as at least a few of the most taxing aspects of 2020 – and of the latter half of the last decade – seem to be receding, even if less, and less quickly, than I might hope, I find new anxieties and fears and sadnesses congealing: a big one, for me, is the gradual focus into which inequity and unfairness and cruelty and indifference and tribalism and… and… and…. are being pulled.
I have precisely one resolution this year: write more.
It is not a fact that the new year will be easier than the previous one. But at least we hope.