Could our current constraints signal a sort of Slow Love movement, a new savoring of the journey? I admit my recent “distanced” dates have a certain lemonade-on-the-porch-swing sweetness — tentatively perched on park benches or strolling seaside, running from waves like carefree kids. Might driving in the slow lane render me better at discerning a man’s character, kindness, the courage to go the distance? Am I better able to detect red flags when I have iced coffee condensation chilling my fingers instead of a warm, handsome hand prematurely intertwined with mine?
Turns out my hollow envy of Paul proved mercifully fleeting. Instead, I got sad. Beyond-emoji-frowny-faced sad that the 28% of Americans who live alone are living without touch of any kind.
Paul and his exclusive sweetie had just barely limbo-danced under the lowering bar, assuring, in the words of Springsteen, “just a little of that human touch.”
In early April, I’d sat on my driveway for the first time ever (why would I?)— six feet from a visiting friend, who texted en route, “How do drive-bys work?” “I don’t know,” I replied. Between our pitiful two-meter hello and goodbye, we fondly recalled hugs and massages. Our thought bubbles were electric with illicit embraces.
Six weeks later, my thought bubble is about to burst. I sink into bed alone and consider the ardent pleas from B, a card-carrying germaphobe who claims to have been isolating angelically. “I’ve barely let anyone near me. I won’t get you sick! You won’t get me sick! For god’s sake, can’t I make you dinner? Can’t I just hold your hand?”
Versed in the virus’ virulence on plastic, metal, and fabric, I suddenly see objects in his lovely home as landmines in this grown-up rock, paper, scissors game (anything can get you; what will it be?). But, there’s the family-size Purell on his kitchen counter, the ever-present travel size in every pants pocket.
I then indulgently picture us on his long sofa, cozy under separate afghans, Netflix and crystal goblets flickering in the dark.
But I know that Pinot-fueled temptation to quench physical deprivation in a nonexclusive relationship presents potentially dire consequences. Hungry as I am to be held, I decline B’s offer.
Exiled from human touch, this particular diaspora of which we are a part must remain, for now, apart.