The idea of having a big house to myself seemed cool at first, but then loneliness set in.
By Blake Mara
The sound of streaming water coming from the tank’s filter and the sight of the fishes swimming around, picking flakes from the surface sets an aesthetically pleasing and serene tone in my home.
In the kitchen, a single plate, cup, some silverware and cooking utensils are sitting clean on the drying rack, ready for my next meal – that’s if I don’t get takeout again.
I look out the window toward the park across the street – the weather is one of the few things that changes lately – but whether it’s raining or sunny, everyday feels practically the same when living alone during social distancing.
Since quarantine began, it’s just been me alone in my dad’s big Orange County house, while he and his girlfriend adjust to their new retirement home in Palm Springs.
It didn’t really occur to me how much face-to-face interaction was incorporated into my daily life before the stay-at-home order was put in place.
Living in these circumstances for the last month has made me realize how important being around others and having a social life is.
My home’s walls used to echo with many sounds, most boisterous of all were the voices of my family and the friends we’d have over. Now it’s just me – tending to my dad’s prized fish tank, cooking and cleaning for myself and keeping up with school work.
These chores and my college coursework sure help kill time – but being alone doing them for the last month has been mentally taxing, and to be honest, sometimes I forget or just don’t have the motivation to do anything.
It’s easy to assume I could make it on my own and take care of things. I probably could but it’s getting harder to stay on top of my tasks when no one’s around to hold me accountable.
I miss having people around, that extra support only company offers, seems more essential than ever.
Even before the coronavirus forced us all inside, the main people I spoke to and did things with were my family and classmates. Having that daily interaction stop unexpectedly and for such a long time has been hard, though I’ve been very cautious when it comes to keeping my distance from people during this crisis. Getting sick would be bad. But if I were the reason someone else got sick (or worse), I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.
So I’ve just been trying to find things to keep me occupied.
My older brother comes by some afternoons, and since I live right across the street from my local park I have a good excuse to get out of the house for some fresh air and exercise while still practicing social distancing.
I’ve also been able to develop some new skills in the kitchen, though TV dinners and takeout are what’s usually on the menu.
Mornings and evenings are usually the worst. Before the phones start ringing and the Zoom lectures begin, or when the sun goes down and I close out of the last document I’ve been working on, it’s just me and my thoughts and sometimes they make me think I’m losing my mind.
I’ve found that binge-watching TV shows and movies occupies a lot of my free time. I also have a collection of video games to go through.
With games I’m able to escape this reality but still be active in a virtual one.
I know this situation makes self-isolation necessary, but being alone under these circumstances sometimes has me feeling anxious and unwanted. So whether it’s the new Animal Crossing or one of my other games, I appreciate both the distraction and interaction they offer.
But even that’s not enough to fill the void that has me feeling even more alone than usual.
It’s hard for me to sleep these days given what’s going on in my mind. Whether it’s reminiscing about the past or thinking about what’s going to happen tomorrow, the only thing I have are my thoughts, and the occasional creepy sounds from unknown origins that have me hollering, “who’s there?”
I’ve been fortunate to have my family, classmates, and colleagues at The Daily Titan and Tusk to talk to periodically so I don’t feel so alone and anxious all the time.
But I just hope this whole situation with the coronavirus ends soon. As much as I thought it’d be nice to live alone in a big house with no one around, it’s the long haul that takes a mental toll on me and I rather be outside with other people than feel caged in.