Oh Hello Jo – Welcome Back… I Think…

Photography:
Josefina Santos
Styling:
Mia Fiddis
Words:
Jo Rosenthal

This is the first time I’ve written a column since February. I’d been waiting until I had something really important to say, and now I think I do. This quarantine has been one of the most challenging, heartbreaking, difficult experiences I have ever had to go through. It has brought me to the deepest depths of my loneliness, forced me to hold my own hand as I wept while sitting on the floor in the shower. It has called upon me to contact people I never wanted to speak to only to be ignored or yelled at while blasting the same playlist over and over again entitled Jo: The Musical! Welcome back to what? To me. Maybe for the first time, and only the beginning, I think.

I have never felt so much at once, and it makes me feel like this is the only time in my life where I will get the chance to do so. I’ve formed friendships, which feel like alliances in a war against ourselves, and I’ve gotten my shit together ? in the form of becoming a ‘real’ adult, (or as much real of an adult as I could be at a time where I’m unable to hustle out in the “real world”). I’ve baked, gained weight, begun ballet again and done silly things such as cleaning my closet and fixing my skincare routine. I’ve had conversation upon conversation about who I am, whether they be with myself or loved ones, and given myself permission to really deeply feel everything without hesitation. Fun has been an escape where no escape is to be seen outside of news and theory, but also elaborate your relationship with fun to mask emotions and what it means to you to “deeply feel everything.”
I’ve realized that no matter what a person’s situation is, we’ve all been able to come together to bond over the fact that this has been so incredibly not fun. There’s nowhere to run to. Nothing new to feed off-of, and an enormous amount of time to comb over the past. Out of boredom, I gave two people on Tinder my phone number, knowing we would never see each other in person, to mask the hope that one of my exes would feel deep regret over what happened between us and feel compelled to contact me and make sure I’m okay, since you know, we did once really like each other. They didn’t.
Side note: I’d just like to say that during this pandemic, you don’t know how much it means to me when someone asks me how I am feeling. There are certain people in my life that I wish would call and certain people that I should call, but it’s safe to say that they will never know what’s going on in my head because they don’t want to ask. I’ve wondered what the protocol of resentment is as far as friends during a pandemic goes. It’s hard enough taking care of yourself when every day could feel different than the one before, but the support of a community, no matter how small, is what keeps us feeling heard, loved, sane, and validates that: “yes, I am still alive, thank you for asking?” Am I allowed to be mad at someone if they’re unable to offer me support in ways I’m unable to support myself?
It brings to mind a beautiful song, by Fiona Apple where she says:
I feel like singing and drinking and stuff
And I don’t wanna care if I stumble or cry
Handle me like family and that’ll be enough,
To keep me from dying when I want to die.
While listening to what someone I so greatly admire, like Fiona Apple, has learned for herself in her own years of isolation and experience, I’ve been gifted insight into my own abilities to discover who I am as a person teetering into adulthood, and realise much of what I need to do in continuation of my personal growth involves listening to my own intuition instead of constantly going back and forth in the room of other people’s noise.
That’s how I feel, but I also feel like I’ve never related to the lyrics that helped shape me into the person I believe I am. When forced to spend all of my time alone, only having one visitor (my best friend Will) every now and again, I am reminded that I am not completely alone, but my thoughts feel rotten and I am riddled with confusion about what the next steps in my life will be- when I get the chance to fully live again.
I’ve begun wishing everyday at 11:11am/pm for things that I won’t share, but when I do it almost feels like I’m praying. In a time of such uncertainty, little things like talking to the universe, or whoever is listening, feel like the saviour I need to make it through another slow passing day. I am grateful that the sun has started to shine warm again.
Some nights I stay awake until the sun rises, having dreams that feel like I could be awake, but I’m confronted with darkness in the form of an ex and I re-living what we once had in a million different ways.
I can honestly say that during the quarantine, I have pretty much laid on every surface where I can stare at the ceiling from a different point of view. Has anyone else done that yet? Regardless of all of that, I just miss human contact and interaction and I wish I didn’t take all of the moments I was with company for granted.
I realised the other day that I am a very open person who doesn’t talk about things openly. I like to think I talk about everything that is going on with me out in the open, but I think that that’s just a way for me to not deal and cope with things internally.
Although I haven’t faced my demons, whoever they are, I’ve finally become proud of myself (and not been so hard on myself) for making it through each day without self-harming or completely breaking down.
While everyday is a new journey through loneliness that I find myself taking, I have still managed to make sure my dreams of becoming greater than I am are in my heart that I wear proudly on my sleeve.