I had an interesting conversation with Michael the other day.
“I just realized that I don’t miss XX. Like, AT ALL.” Says I about a friend who I had been spending a lot of time talking to for the last few months, and with COVID somehow it just stopped.
He laughed. “Okay — are you upset about that?”
“No, just reporting.” I paused for a minute. “Do you miss or not miss anyone surprising?”
He paused. “You know, the entire concept of ‘missing’ is one that I’m not sure exists.”
Oh for god’s sake. Every time one of you tell me that I’m so lucky to have this man as my partner, I’d like you to remember that on a fairly regular basis he questions the premise of very basic assumptions that we all have about life and then we talk about it and eventually I get a headache and have to have a glass of wine. All I can say is THANK GOD he didn’t go to law school, otherwise this somewhat charming quirk would be actually insufferable.
But this conversation was an interesting one despite my desire to bash him over the head with the cutting board that I was washing. He was arguing that he has lots of people in his life who fill various categories of things he requires out of a human interaction, and so if one of those people happens to drop out for an amount of time, others fill the void. So missing a single person is a bit of a hurdle for him.
My immediate follow-up question was: “do you miss me when I’m not around?”
Of course his answer was yes — and not just because he’s not an idiot. His argument with me is that there are some things that he desires of human companionship that only I fulfill. I’m his only lover (“that’s good to know,” I said sarcastically. He ignored me.). I’m the only one that he’s found (so far) that has created a very specific emotional reaction that we loosely label as “love” and probably encompasses some combination of the Greek concepts of eros, philia, storge, ludus, and pragma. I’m physically attractive to him so he enjoys looking at me (“despite my COVID-15?” I laughingly asked. He kept ignoring me.)
Luckily for both of us, the list went on.
When he was done, I looked at him and said, “so I’m efficient. With one person, you have access to a lot of the things that you enjoy out of human relationships.”
As I thought about this conversation over the past few days, I realized that only people I currently enjoy interacting with are those who are most efficient for me. And those who I don’t miss are those who aren’t efficient. (No knocks on them personally.)
This crisis has exhausted me. And I don’t even have kids. I’m tired of the politics, I’m tired of the collective fear, I’m tired of trying to avoid comfort foods, I’m tired of saying no to the second glass of wine. I’m tired of craving comfort foods and wine. I’m tired of grocery shopping for people who eat crap and then sorting out reimbursements. I’m tired of the masks and gloves and hand sanitizer. I’m tired of dropping off my sick cat (the other one) who hates the vet on the vet’s porch knowing that he’s going to spend the next few hours petrified, and I can’t help him through it. I’m tired of the rain and an April that can’t consistently stay warmer than 35 degrees. I’m tired of my completely yellow house (I mean, shades of this color are EVERYWHERE you look except in my personal belongings). I’m tired of my inbox and my failure to get any work done. I’m tired of my low grade fear that if I get COVID-19 (totally different problem than COVID-15) that I will die a brutally painful and lonely death.
Because I’m an introvert, this generally means I don’t want to talk to anyone other than my cats. But if I do have to talk to someone, I only want to talk to those who are most efficient for me so I can cover all of my human companionship needs in as few interactions as possible. Mostly those two people are my husband and my sister because they’re both smart, funny, and have known me long enough that I don’t have to explain things or apologize for my somewhat and sometimes unfortunately personality. Also I have to talk to them because I live with one and the other is my partner in parent-management.
I don’t miss some of my very best friends. So, once again, this is not a knock on anyone’s personality or how much I love you. It’s just that my circle has gotten really small in an entirely unexpected way due to this COVID thing. So, if I haven’t spoken to you lately, please don’t take it personally. I’m just really tired, and you’re not a cat.