By Sarah Loverock
My last date before the quarantine was imposed was in an empty Zizzi’s and I ordered a pizza with a glass of water. My shoes were neon pink. My date was twenty minutes late and she insulted my Yorkshire accent within seconds of our meeting. She continued to offer backhanded compliments peppered with sweet gestures, like offering to pay. My mind drifted to all the friends I could be spending time with—all the books I should have been reading right then.
In this bizarre, empty restaurant, a dreamlike, childish quality floated over me. I was bubbling with laughter, toying with my hair and rings. The waiter placed a candle between us on the table—a candle for every empty table around us too, with a slight eye-roll on the waiter’s part—and she leaned in. I scooted my chair back. I laughed awkwardly, my eyes flitting to the door.
She hugged me as we parted ways—stiff and awkward—and suggested we do it again some time. Her smile was easy and sensual. An hour later I sent her a text, softly telling her I didn’t think we were compatible. A week later our university closed, I lost my phone and she was gone forever. Just another person who slipped out the backstage of my life.
My last date was also my first. My engaged, partnered and loved-up friends keep suggesting I put myself out there. Like a prize sheep at a county fair. Look at me! Look at me! I have nice hair, nice eyes. Just overlook the tremor in my hands, the fear behind my smile, and the way my body hurts all over.
A couple of days ago the doctor declared me clinically fucked. He won’t say it’s chronic pain but he also won’t say it’s not chronic pain. And he won’t say it’s a whole host of other horrible conditions, so mostly he’s not doing a whole lot while chastising me for being so anxious. But that’s beside the point. I drag this sore bruised body out of bed every morning, drink coffee, write. Daydream. I daydream a lot about all the ways I could fall in love—at work, at weddings, at house parties and quiz nights with friends. Kissing in the kitchen, sneaking off to a hidden alcove on the beach to confess our love. But doubt always creeps in. I’m too romantic. Too unrealistic. There’s no one out there for me and it’s a waste of time to even imagine it. Even in the privacy of my own mind, those worn-out beliefs imposed onto me as a little girl, that I’d never find love and never be fulfilled in life because of these arbitrary physicalities like weight and skin and height fill me up until I can’t breathe. Until I’m drowning in my own longing.
It was already a stretch, being fat. It gets you those pitying, condescending looks when you talk about love as if those with a few extra pounds around the waist are condemned to live in a convent with their faces covered. I get the maybe you just want them to love you a lot. Is that so bad? To want love after being alone for so long? I hold those innocent ideals of love close to my chest in the same way I fantasize about arguments and cuddling. I’m still waiting for someone to cup my cheek and kiss me. I’m still waiting for a rescuer.
It’s not life I need to be rescued from. Life’s hard. I learned that before anyone else did, as a little girl dodging punches, and I’m still condemned as a dreamer. As someone who can’t face reality. I wake up every day in pain and little by little, it steals the magic out of life. I turn to my oracle cards—all those mermaids and fairies and moons and stars that used to mean so much to me as a child. Now I’m facing working my decaying body to death or living in poverty, slipping into old family patterns. Being like my mother, constantly drifting from boyfriend to boyfriend, putting up with any kind of abuse to get some magic back into her life, to find her rescuer. Her Prince Charming.
I think I’d rather be alone than see that happen. But I don’t want to be alone in the same way I don’t want to be sick. I had such big dreams, cartwheels in Vietnam, sunbathing in Italy, picking oranges in New Zealand. I was going to do it all. Now I can barely go twenty minutes without needing to sit down, can hardly speak without getting out of breath. I’m weighed down by all the missed opportunities, all the lost loves, the unwritten novels, the countries and cities unexplored, lost to me.
I want to spend time with friends, I want to talk about my pain but I don’t want it to bring the mood down. I don’t want to be greeted with the awkward silences, the strained smiles, and blank expressions. It feels cyclical almost, the same shit I went through when opening up about my childhood when people didn’t quite know what to say because nothing can make it better. Nothing can bring that time back—or make it hurt any less.
So I’ve been holed up in my room for days on a cocktail of antidepressants, painkillers, and coffee. I’ve been trying to get through the day, buying heat packs, buying tarot cards. I’m scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, thinking about all the crushes I’ve had, how they’re in love with someone else, feeding them breakfast every day, stroking their hair. I wonder when I’ll be allowed to have those things.
I wonder if the universe has assigned me the role of observer. The curse of being a writer is that you’re gifted in listening and absorbing the stories of others but only ever as an outsider looking in. Always wanting, reaching for that kind of love and connection but never having. Always clocking things a little too late and getting left behind by those you love.
I’m going to call the doctor again tomorrow. I’m going to ask him if there’s a pill for loneliness.
Sarah Loverock is a writer and dreamer from England. She has a BA & MA in Creative Writing for the University of Derby. She has a great love for tarot and all things spiritual, as well as history, folklore, mythology, and cute animals, especially cats. She is available on Twitter @asoftblueending.
This piece is a part of DISTANCED 2.0.