I Live Alone, and I Miss Touch More Than Anything
Self-isolation brings on bouts of touch hunger
The other week, one of my favorite writers, Fariha Róisín, tweeted at midnight an encouragement to check up on unpartnered people in quarantine, then concluded with an admission of how much she missed intimacy. I was immediately struck by the honesty, my finger pressed to my cellphone screen so that it wouldn’t fall asleep on me. Then, I began to think about my time in social isolation. I hadn’t seen anyone in weeks, of course, but I was still texting, talking on the phone, and video conferencing whenever I could. But then I pressed further into my thinking and asked myself: When’s the last time you had a hug? I looked at my Google calendar and counted back three weeks. I may have hugged that person. We did go out for drinks, but I don’t hug everyone that I meet up with for happy hour. Then I lied flat on my back and caressed the hairs on my arms attempting to stitch together a history of intimacy in the immediate past that may or may not have been true. I didn’t just miss intimacy. I missed being touched.
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been as harsh to me as it has been for my other colleagues in both art and academia. I still have a job where I can comfortably work from home, I don’t have children distracting me every minute, on the minute, and most of all, I do not have a fever or cough (though I could be an asymptomatic carrier). I thought I was doing well at first because I was a freelancer not too long ago. I’m skilled in being by myself, my personal and professional lives blurring from one room to the next in my personal space. And for perhaps two weeks, I thought I was fine. I was working out almost every day to keep the endorphins flowing, and I was burying myself in work as best as I could—until I realized that all that submerging was a coping mechanism. I thought that as long as I kept my mind running as my body was being neglected, I’d be okay. Now, I’m not so sure.
Before the pandemic, I knew what my love languages were: Words of affirmation — an unsurprising revelation because I’m a writer — and quality time — because I value when people show up for me. But that was a different time, a different world. That was a time when I lived in a bustling metropolis where I could be sandwiched between two…