• Irene Chirita

isolation syndrome: readapting to a new reality of togetherness | community


There is a small park about 15 minutes away from my house. Here, at the top of a secluded hill, there is an old bench in the middle of two trees. One's always green, no matter the season, while the other's branches have been cut off and never grew back. I used to consider this my spot; you know, the kind they talk about in books and films. The kind the main character always shares with a loved one. I've never shared mine with anyone. As a writer, I've always craved time alone. And this place offered me just that. It used to feel reassuring, having a place I could call mine. A place where I could visit when I felt like escaping the city's chaos, and I would just sit and write, or paint, or read, or just overlook the park and lose myself into my own thoughts. For years, in this part of the park, the only sounds you could hear were the rustling of leaves and a dog barking, and occasionally, if you kept quiet, birds chirping in the distance. I haven't been here in a while. Life got busy: lots of people to hang out with, concerts to go to, parties to attend, new restaurants to try. But when life started feeling like I was living the same day over and over again, I was drawn to this place. Even if it was not for the same reason anymore. Life now exists primarily in the virtual world. I work from my bedroom and date from my kitchen, and nothing else happens outside of the ivory walls of my apartment. I try to socialise as much as I can. I send emails and text, and invitations for weekly zoom calls with my friends and stay motivated from my screens. And after several weeks, I'm still trying to find ways to thrive in this new normal. But this newfound togetherness is exhausting. Because as much as we try, nothing will compare with the possibility of holding someone's hand and this time is when we need it most. So I found solace in nature. I went back to my spot, and I sat there, overlooking passers at a distance. One day, I found myself fascinated by a toddler playing in the grass, imagining what it would feel like to discover the world all over again. I picked up the phone and called my friend. 'Where are you? I hear birds," she asked. I smiled. I was ready to share my spot with someone.


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