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Hearts in Lockdown

Below is something a bit different to the normal kinda thing I post on this blog, but thought I’d share it here anyway in case it might resonate.

Hearts in Lockdown

Two meters is a bigger distance than you’d think. Six months ago it was just a length on a tape measure, a line in my mind’s eye, but now it’s a chasm, a wall, and a prison all at the same time.

It’s strange how disconnected I’ve felt lately; free of anchors or safety rails. Falling is a common metaphor applied to things we don’t quite have the language for. This is not the worst kind of falling, not that horrifying tumbling vertigo that sometimes plunges me back into wakefulness just before sleep can take me. Still, I feel something is happening that I don’t have control over but ought to be able to catch myself from. If only I knew which way to lurch and grasp. I am falling into myself. It is a little like collapsing into bed or slumping into the sofa, in that it is safe, it is familiar. My own company.

It is a solitude, but it is more than that, it is a detachment from the gravitational pull of other people. I had been getting used to them as well; nearly hit a two year relationship record before all of this, but no. Not my choice but there we go; snip snip, cut the cords and spin free.

Many people view it as unhealthy the way I bury my feelings, but it is a well learned survival response. The wound hurts more if you look at it, so cover it up, no need to poke it, things heal faster that way. I’m not pretending it didn’t happen, how could I? Just pouring that thick layer of protective cement.

Maybe I was built for this new world? This abstract bunker built of facemasks and computer screens. Is this a world where I can forgo compromise? Escape the weight of other people’s unpredictable feelings and expectations...

No. I don’t know what this falling is, but there is something horrible in it; a pressure that makes me want to scream with all my lungs, except there is no air in them. My eternally tapping fingers have slowed; new connections lie neglected and my support network feels unplugged.

I have been on some dates; socially distanced walks with new faces. I’ve exchanged smiles and conversation, watched others float past on their own life rafts as we all cling on in the storm. On one of these tentative meetings we went for a walk along the River Windrush . A bug flew into my mouth and I tried to explain it was a fly not the plague, as I coughed and sucked urgently at my water bottle.

Later our hands accidentally touched when passing through a kissing gate and we both withdrew in sudden horror. It’s hard to find ‘chemistry’ when infectious biology occupies most of your thoughts. I had hoped the rules might shield my occasional awkwardness, but they have amplified it instead. I don’t know what I’m doing. Dating decisions carry impossible weight; do you dive in hard and risk combustion, or keep your distance and watch other hearts bounce away?

Bounce, swipe, bounce, swipe, bounce.

It’s not you it’s me. It’s not me, it’s the implosion of Western civilization, oh and that pesky virus too. My eyes are hungry, but my lips are sealed tight. Sorry if I’m a ghost right now; there’s a danger in your eyes and in your shape.

This fall might take some breaking, but for now I’ll stay limp, work on what I can. This brutal time will pass. One day we will embrace old friends and kiss new lovers without fearful risk assessment. One day we will lean close, breathe each other in, and hear the life pulsing in our chests. One day we’ll love fearlessly, fully and more recklessly than we ever loved before.

We’ve had a precious reminder of what really matters.

I can’t wait to live freely again.