Last May, I boarded a flight from my home in Washington, D.C. and headed to Seattle to determine whether or not I was ready to uproot my life and start over in a new city. To begin another “Life After Normal”, as it were.
Well, you all know how that story ended, as a few weeks later my dog and I hit the road, heading west towards our new life. Of course I had no idea that when I signed my new Seattle apartment lease I was not only committing to a new home and a new office, but also to what would become my “shelter in place” (or my prison, depending on the day). Basically, yet another “Life After Normal” thanks to COVID-19, only this is a life change that everyone can actually relate to.
I’m not going to lie, It’s been a lonely two months. As a single person living alone, the social isolation takes a toll. I am incredibly grateful to have pets — if it wasn’t for them, I would have no one to physically interact with, no warm bodies to hug, no reason to go outside. I have no doubt my mental health would be in a far worse place if it wasn’t for my animals. (side note: if you have single friends who live alone, check in on them. It’s really, really hard.)
It’s weird to be isolated in a strange city — because let’s be clear, Seattle is not yet home. I don’t know the city, I haven’t made friends, I haven’t found new communities, I couldn’t tell you one neighborhood from another, any fun restaurants or bars, places people visiting the city should check out. Don’t get me wrong, I have zero regrets about leaving D.C. That change was LONG overdue. But I am still a visitor in Seattle.
I think that is the hardest thing about this pandemic and being in a city where I know no one — will I ever have the opportunity to find my place here? Sometimes I wonder if this new reality is my new normal. Places remaining closed, people remaining apart, me at home alone. Even as quarantine begins to shift to quaran-team, I don’t have any groups of friends to reconnect with, or local so-called “teams” of friends to join. The slow loosening of shelter-in-place mandates will have zero impact on my life or day-to-day interactions.
Of course, there is nothing I can do right now to become a true citizen of Seattle other than staying home and doing my part to flatten the curve so life can return to what will surely be a new normal. Driving around and sightseeing through my car window doesn’t hold a ton of excitement for me; neither does online dating in an era of FaceTime dates (just, no.). I splurged on a Peloton, so even exercise keeps me indoors.
I know regardless of where I was located, it would be a lonely and challenging time for a million reasons. But after a bumpy transition to Seattle and a crazy work schedule that kept me on the road (which I can hardly complain about – work is good, I am lucky), I had been counting down the days to when I could shake off the winter darkness and really embrace my new city. To have that put on hold indefinitely is a devastating reality (one that I’ve chosen to eat and drink my way through) — and I can’t help feeling like I’ll be isolated and alone forever.