PV Headshot Jean Shriver.JPG

Jean Shriver

This past year was my first living alone. Like many women my age, I'd gone from living with my family away to school and then away to college. I had roommates at both places. In college, there were six of us playing bridge and swapping stories far into the night.

After college, I drove to Denver with one roommate, where we worked for a few months until she decided to get married.

Unwilling to live alone, I came back to New York and moved into an apartment in the East Village with two college friends. After two years and two jobs, following in the footsteps of most of my contemporaries, I got married. That gave me a great roommate for the next 62 years.

The first year without Charlie I kept busy. Writing, meeting with other writers, joining friends for lunch, going to concerts, plays and doing anything to distract me from the reality of living all by myself in a pretty big space.

To be honest, there was family next door, plus interaction with a weekly cleaning woman and gardener.

I could almost forget I was alone until I went upstairs at night and looked at the big king-sized bed with only me to sleep in it.

But as we do, I adjusted.

And then came the pandemic. And now I was really alone.

Conversations with the family took place only outside with that decreed six feet between us. No meetings with friends, no library trips, no possibilities for travel. Even church was out of bounds. Younger people did my shopping.

So here's the weird thing ... the isolation is growing on me.

I get up later than I used to because I have less to do and I might as well put off breakfast until the newspaper comes.

I wander around the house with a dust rag in one hand, desultorily swiping at furniture as I go.

I am good about laundry and dishes because neglecting those things could turn you into a slattern, something nobody wants to be.

But there is something amazing about having all the hours of the day, or of the night, if I feel like it, at my disposal.

There's books, puzzles, the TV and all the wonderful programs now available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

It's like scanning a chest full of golden coins, as I contemplate the offerings.

Comedy or tragedy? Mystery or romance? My grandson recommended Tiger King and I tried it, but it just wasn't for me. And since there's nobody to fight me for the TV clicker, I clicked it off.

So far I haven't stayed up until two or three in the morning, but I could. Nobody would know.

Of course, one of these days we are all counting on this virus running its course. And then what? Life will be normal again.

People will want to have meetings about important things. Or someone will want to celebrate a birthday. Friends might come to visit.

Oh dear, will I remember to put out clean towels and pick a bunch of roses for the guestroom?

What will I make for their dinner? Right now it's just me and my microwave. 

And how about the rest of you?

Will you reemerge blinking into a world you'd almost forgotten?

Or will you rush to embrace all the things and all the people you have missed?

Anyhow, before that day comes, hope you'll stay home, stay safe and find a really good TV show to follow.

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