This is part of a series of personal essays we're calling Stories from Seattle, contributed by our community and designed to show how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the lives of Seattleites. Want to share your story, coping mechanisms, wildest ideas? We’d love to hear. Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember how your friends made you feel like a schlub for backing out of the premiere of Little Women because you preferred the comfort of your cozy couch and HULU? How about when they ridiculed you for choosing to purge your bedroom closet instead of hiking Mt. Rainier? Can you even count all the ways you’ve felt like a loser because Target sweatpants always win out over your most recent Stich Fix box?
Introverts unite! It’s our time to show the social animals how to do self-isolation with panache.
Restaurants are closed? We’ve been cooking and dining at home for most our lives and can wing a chopped-style meal from back-of-the-cupboard canned goods with the grace and style of Jose Andres. Are grocery stores packed with rabid shoppers ravaging the shelves of every paper product known to man? We’ve been shopping at 6 a.m. to avoid human contact since we moved out of our parent’s homes. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx shut down? Wait, you mean to say people still go inside stores for clothing? For the love of God, why?
Social anxiety, aversion to people, fear of crowds, agoraphobia: call it what you will. There is a segment of the human population that feels most “normal” in self-isolation as a lifestyle choice. Contrary to popular opinion and what many of our friends believe, we do not live in a state of FOMO. We do not regret missing our second cousin’s destination wedding. Dinner parties are a quagmire of misery kicking off IBS, migraines, and necessitating a triple dose of Klonopin. The last concert many of us attended featured the Funky Bunch and we still experience PTSD at every Mark Wahlberg movie because of it. Sporting events, the boardwalk, and Disneyland produce apocalyptic scenes of human swarms that invade our dreams like theatre previews for the latest disaster movie.
A hermetic existence makes us perfectly suited for the end of the world. Not only has our ability to survive sustained aloneness been tested and proven but we’ve been taking care of our own needs since Duck and Cover. We know how to clear a slow sink drain and light the pilot on the boiler. Flashlights, barrels of water, bleach (bonus OCD pathologies are fun!) and yes, toilet paper are tucked into closets and stored in attics. We realized early on that no one is coming to save us—the weirdo who lives down the street with the curtains drawn—and we’ve made provisions. We are stocked and loaded and unafraid.
There is a certain comfort in knowing the entire human population is currently stuck at home. Where we usually feel like freaks, we are now just one of the crowd, the majority. We listen as our gregarious pals whine and whimper about shuttered coffee shops and the inferiority of waffles they are forced to produce at home now that their favorite brunch spot is kaput. The office busybodies have gone radio silent because their bottomless rumor well has run dry and their audience is in seclusion. Racing to Zoom for their fix of pseudo-human interaction, these neurotic merrymakers are incapable of getting through the day without fans. We watch bemused, as the collective meltdowns of our extroverted cohorts begin to resemble the lava flows of Kilauea.
We promise not to gloat as we crank up the generators and pull perfect shots of espresso from our super-automatic Gaggia Deluxe machines, which we can easily afford because we don’t drop $7 a day on Venti Mocha Caramel quads with extra whip and chocolate sauce. Some of us will even share hand sanitizer if asked politely from a 6-foot distance. We’re actually pretty nice people, once you get to know us. Clearly, that’s never going to happen.