art by Kirsten Kramer

Welcome to Life Inside

This is Life Inside, it's where we go when the outside world is no longer safe.

I never knew before that I could live for years indoors. And yet, I already have.

When I got cancer in 2018, I began to live life inside. Sure, I went to the Florida Capitol when I needed to, and traveled for hours in the car to a hospital located four hours away in Tampa, but otherwise, I was home. (I’m in remission).

I got really good at working sources on the phone. I think it’s basically my superpower.

The point is, people adjust. We could all be saying two years from now, ‘Wow, I never knew I could live, really live, my life inside.’ But we could. And, maybe, we will.

I talked to a friend from New York today who said no one is hooking up in city. He said he never thought something like that could ever happen before.

Hooking up is a way of life for my friend. So the lack of it is a big deal for him personally. But it’s also a big deal for New York, which is now changed, almost overnight, full of people who are doing a thing they would never do before: staying inside.

I never really got the point of life outdoors when I lived there. I didn’t like the bad smells (pee is literally everywhere), or the sweaty child-men (who were literally everywhere in any place I could afford to live), and I didn’t like the anonymity.

I can’t even count the number of times I was ghosted in New York by men, who are somehow in such short supply there. I have a very sophisticated (long lost) friend who accidentally dated a homeless man, which encapsulates the depths of the supply issue.

So, four years ago I moved to Florida to pursue journalism, and to hopefully, finally, fall in love with someone who wouldn’t ghost me and who wasn’t homeless. I have majorly succeeded in the latter.

I guess I am somewhat succeeding in journalism, too. I got sick in the middle of all that succeeding.

My now-husband and I moved in together in an adorable town called Tallahassee. And then I stopped going outside.

“We were already isolated,” my dad joked on the phone with me recently.

My dad is isolated because he is a workaholic. I am isolated because I was very sick and now I am very scared to venture out into the world because I don’t want to return to the place of being ill, or being afraid of dying.

I hate to admit it because the coronavirus is so fucking scary and because so many people have died, but for me personally, a recovering cancer patient, life has somewhat improved since everyone else moved indoors. During the golden hour, our neighbors congregate, six feet apart.

I walk my dog Lily then, this time with my husband, as opposed to by myself. (Walking Lily is one of the few things I’ve always done outdoors since getting cancer. It’s pretty easy to practice social distancing then). I video chat more with friends now, who are all wavering between restlessness, and loving wearing sweatpants to work.

But I miss my mom, who cannot visit. I miss my friends who couldn’t come to my wedding, which was canceled due to the coronavirus. I wonder when I can get on a plane again. I fantasize about tattoos constantly now — I have four already — but worry about the human contact.

This is life inside. It’s where we go when the outside world is unsafe.

At least I have somewhere to retreat. And for that, I am grateful.

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