62 weeks ago I saw Parasite in a movie theater. It was glorious. Superb film, packed house, rapt audience. If we never go back to the movies again, I’m glad that to have that as my last theater memory.

59 weeks ago was the last time I touched another human being when I hugged my friends after our annual birthday bowling party. The lunch we had together was the last time I ate in a restaurant.

I don’t know another person who has been completely alone this year. I am sure they’re out there. Most of my friends are spread through other parts of the country, all with some combination of kids, partners, roommates, pets, pods. 

I have plants. They seem to be mostly alive though not due to any particular skill on my part.

I go into my office every third workday, which feels like an event. I like the change of scenery, that it takes more than ten steps to get from one spot to another, and that there is a porch where I eat my lunch next to an orange tree. I am still alone on these days, but am endlessly thankful and relieved to have the work I do.

I eat 99% of my meals from a big stoneware ramen bowl and alternate through my plates for the other 1% so none of them feel forgotten. I’ve anthropomorphized everything in my small studio.

Construction on a new apartment building across the street started two days after the first shelter-in-place order, so the sounds of cement mixers and jackhammers have been constant companions. If my apartment had any outdoor access I would probably be more irritated by it, instead I am now well-acquainted with every tree and bench that are any approximation of ‘park’ within a 5-mile radius to which I escape when I want to touch grass.

When I am feeling positive, I tell myself that while nearly everyone I know is occupied with other people, other obligations, I have free rein to dive deeply into things I love, to gather varied interests closer to my heart–and I have so many interests. I feel lucky to have never been bored, ever at all, surrounded by my books and projects and the tools of several trades.

I have made five dresses, three jackets, four shirts, one pair of awful pants, one quilt minus binding, three hats, one spiderman scarf, two potholders, one enormous wall hanging, one pillow, eighty three disastrous paper cutting experiments, many vinyl stickers, two pairs of mittens, 19871329147 masks, three box bags, three pencil cases, two cowls, 4.75 sweaters, two of which were fingering weight and finished and then unraveled because I am not currently subscribing to the ‘done is better than perfect’ theory and they’re going to be perfect, one giant 75lb floor pouf stuffed with scraps, practiced paper piecing, learned pojagi piecing, remembered why I’m not that into macramé, done some vegetable dyeing, and probably some other stuff I can’t remember that is forever lost to the sands of time.

I’ve blown out my wrist a few times in our ongoing war of attrition, but can’t bring myself to knit English instead of continental.

I’ve read a lot, of course, but haven’t kept any track of what. While skipping all over the place, across genres and forms, I am retaining so little, which makes me feel less like myself than anything else.

So, since language acquisition strengthens neural pathways and long-term memory it has made perfect sense to keep practicing hangul and conjugating latin verbs, neither of which is immediately useful in any capacity at all.

Relatedly, since sustained focus is increasingly challenging when the contours of each day don’t change much, I almost exclusively watch subtitled things that require fixed attention and my algorithms are flexing gloriously in response.

I remind myself I have this site and could always write more. I don’t, but I could.

I put on my big headphones and have a dance party in my kitchenette while I make dinner every night.

I was doing a ballet barre every day, but recent consistency there has been somewhat cyclical. I try not to think about the petit allegro I miss, or having actual floor space to cover in a turning sequence. 

For a while I kept a daily log as both a writing exercise and because it was actually a bit frightening to not be able recall full chunks of time. August, February, where did they go? Like the daily barre, my efforts here have become sporadic of late.

Though for years I have often stayed up until wee hours for bangtan broadcasts, the communal solidarity of virtual cheering has been especially comforting this year. Converting time to different time zones is weirdly helpful in feeling connected to the wider world amid the why am I still here what am I doing should I have moved to seoul after all somewhere else anywhere else I still could go why did I make such a hard professional pivot how would I move leave again etc etc etc of this apartment at 3am. Sleep, like everything else, been sometimes fine and sometimes impossible.

And that’s the list, the shape of last year, paragraphs of II…I… because it’s just been me here, all the time, in this small world where once-distinct solitude and isolation and loneliness blur endlessly into each other.

Perhaps most significantly, the last year has accelerated and deepened the slow fading or erasure that perhaps all single people experience at this age when so many cultural norms and modes of recognition center on partnership and kids and families. A perception that has been expressed to me more than once by well-meaning people is that I must have so much time and energy to do so many things. This is usually said with some wistfulness as if single adulthood must surely be like living in a gloriously suspended eternal youth.

There is rarely any follow up question about what it actually is like. Reader, I will only say here that it is not the same as being 22 and going to house parties on weeknights and never sleeping and living on coffee and day-old pastries or however your halcyon days replay in your memory.

A few weeks ago, a married parent friend looked at me and said this has been hard for you, too, in very specific ways we can’t fully understand and it was so unexpected but oh how sustaining that one moment of being clearly perceived has been.

I have read and heard so many stories of parents, of families, of groups navigating this time, and virtually nothing about people like myself, mostly entirely by ourselves, at a strange intersection of the privilege of living alone at the cost of a social community built on time and proximity, just hanging in there as best we can. So, here is me shouting into the void saying I’m here too. Just me.

But see, I’m also not sure I want to be loud. I’m getting rustier at articulating things to the outside world and words are sliding around in my brain. I’ll read this word barf tomorrow and cringe because this year has been about so much more than these details of my little life. While this has been a global situation, we have all been living through our own individual pandemics, all different and singular in their own ways.

My neighbors are strangely quiet tonight for once and the silence is sort of delicious and pulsing around me. I’ll linger in it.