This Pandemic Has Taught Me That Cats Are Definitely My Spirit Animals

In their teen years, many people worried about being invisible, falling between the cracks and being forgotten. This was never my concern. I was always the popular — or notorious — girl wherever I went. My family moved often, sometimes leaving and then returning to the same area. I adjusted and made and broke connections easily. By my teen years, I had become a bit of an odd child: a proud, black sheep.

Today, people either love or hate me the first time they meet me, but most come to the general conclusion that I am an extroverted person who enjoys the limelight. Many of those people learn the hard way that this is simply not true. I am a chatterbox and enjoy picking people’s brains, but I am very much a closet introvert.

Put me in any room or leave me with a stranger and I’ll start up a conversation in 10 seconds. Catch me tomorrow when I’m home and you’ll wonder if I’m the same person. Many introverts complain about being misunderstood, but I don’t think anyone is as misunderstood as the closet introvert. We give “time and place” a whole new meaning.

Story Time…

I started school at two years old. If you’re wondering if this is legal, the answer is no. However, my house on the hill gave me a perfect view of the children playing below and I could hardly wait for the day when I would be one of them. I pestered my mother so much that at two and a half years old, she convinced the school to enroll me off the books.

I had just mastered basic literacy at home, so the teachers were fond of me and took me under their wings. Sadly, school was not as exciting as I thought it would be. I remember feeling horribly depressed for the first week while feeling I could not tell my mom how much I hated it because I had begged to go.

Fortunately, as the weeks progressed, I settled in and made friends with all the boys. School was easy, so I looked forward most of all to lunchtime when the boys and I wreaked havoc in the schoolyard.

“Alex is a very sociable child,” I remember the teacher telling my mother when it was time for one-on-one evaluations. “She’s friends with everyone. Everyone loves her.” That year, the teachers finally legally enrolled me for K1, but put me in K2 classes.

My mother, feeling thrilled and proud, decided to throw a surprise party for me. I remember being in my room while Mom slaved away in the kitchen downstairs. Then, I heard voices. Finally, she came to the door. “Food is ready. Come down to eat.”

I followed her down the stairs and walked into a decorated space with children from school eating, drinking and laughing. I helped myself to a plate, said hello to everyone, went back upstairs and shut the door.

Mom came up to find me a few minutes later. “What are you doing up here?” she asked me.

I don’t remember what had so occupied my attention. I was probably colouring on the walls or reading a book and told her so. By her silence, I recognised I might have erred and asked, “Was I supposed to stay downstairs?”

She looked back at me, wide-eyed. “Your friends are downstairs. Don’t you want to play?”

“Play?” I repeated. “Now? But I see them at school every day. Why now?” I felt distressed at the idea that I now had to put away my things, go downstairs and spend time with someone else.

I remember Mom looking at me as if she was seeing my true colours for the first time. Then, she said, “It’s okay. You can stay up here.” She shut the door quietly and went downstairs. It was my first time having friends over and my mother never had another party like that again. I am 30 years old and she still tells this story.

Tiny House Planning

In 2018, I worked 32 hours on the weekend — yes, you read that right — and then worked every other day during the week. I went to the gym. I went hiking. I took myself out on dinner dates and got taken out on dinner dates. I went painting every week. I published my novel.

Then, 2019 came around, and I decided to focus my efforts on working more hours to save for my next big adventure. At the stroke of midnight, my life took a whole new turn. I stopped going out and worked seven days per week. Eventually, waking up to due dates every day became the recipe for impending insanity and I cut it down to six days.

I looked forward to that one day off, but every time it came around, someone would want it. I could never get a second to myself. I found the solution by simply isolating and cutting almost everyone off. Since then, I have maintained contact only with my family and my two closest friends in Atlanta, John and Brian.

It seems drastic, but when I get time to occupy my own headspace, I like to occupy it alone as often as possible. This change completely threw some people off and I thought back to all the times I told them I was a closet introvert and wondered if they were listening.

Do not invite an introvert out twice per week. We will run from you and hide in a cave until you go away.

Pandemic Reflections

My family went into lockdown before America got its first confirmed case. We officially shut our doors to guests as of March 14th but had already stopped heading out about a week or so before this. My husband is also about to become my ex-husband, so I had my entire home to myself and was filled to the very brim with contentment.

I took up painting. I took out the old Wii. I started working on Alanis, Land of the Undead again. I enrolled in a few online courses. I spent hours upon hours watching videos of offroading, tiny house tours and RV living. I was having a blast. Meanwhile, people were sharing their struggles with quarantining online.

“Struggles?” I thought. “What a life!”

About a week into quarantine, both of my good friends messaged me to say, essentially, “I bet you’re enjoying the quarantine isolation, aren’t you?”

“You know I am!” I replied.

If this pandemic has taught me anything about myself it’s that I might love my own company a little too much. I hate that the novel coronavirus has turned everything from strawberries to doorknobs into potential death traps, but I do not look forward to coming out of quarantine. I like it here.

Future Desert Plans

When I first started my tiny home plans, I did not expect to be going into it alone. I spent hours with my partner in crime going over details of the build styles, potential locations and the amenities I wanted. Over time, I realised I was the only one truly excited about it and began to plan for the potential of heading out there alone.

More than a year later, I am 100% sure I’ll be staring up at the desert sky with no one but Shadow to keep me company and the thought puts a smile on my face.

When you have the kind of life plans I do, I think being a closet introvert is the best trait you can be blessed with. When I am around strangers, I will never feel out of place. When family and friends come to visit, I will cherish their company. But when solitude finds me, it will not find me lonely or sad.

You know what terrifies me? This unnerving comfort I have with the idea of being on my own and potentially dying alone one day. The fact that it does not scare me is what scares me. But, what scares me even more is the fact that one day, that might change.

“You know,” Mom said to me, recently, “if it’s one thing about the women in our family, we are not scared of being alone. Just look at your grandmother!”

This is very true, but will I wake up one night, hear the coyotes howling on my property and realise I have crossed everything off my bucket list and want to share some quieter moments with someone now? I guess there’s only one way to find out.

In closing, I leave you with this video from Twitter that inspired this post. Enjoy.

What has quarantine life taught you about your need for social interactions or lack thereof? Are you ready to break free from isolation or have you enjoyed the quiet moments with family and to yourself?

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17 thoughts on “This Pandemic Has Taught Me That Cats Are Definitely My Spirit Animals

  1. Been wondering about your marriage throughout this especially around the tiny house excitement. I took a lot of years off between marriages. If and when you decide to do it again, we and many others have found second marriages the ones that should have been first!!

    1. My husband makes no excuses for the fact that I have several reasons to despise him and says he knows I’ve been plotting to go out west to get away from him and he doesn’t blame me. Not a single person who knows us asked me why I put him out or why it didn’t work. That pretty much sums up my experience: it was horrible, he admits he was the problem and I’m glad to be rid of him.

      I’m looking forward to the road ahead. You also need to let me know if there’s space in your yard to park an RV. 😅 I’ve definitely gotta come back up there for a fall and will likely do so with a camper. 🙃

      1. Yay! When I finally get my hands on the RV, I’ll let you know. I’m still planning on spending most of my time out west and building my home out there, but you have only yourself to blame for my love of New England falls. 😂 You can let me know when the time comes, if/when you can host me.

        He’s terrified of being alone, but I’m not. So ultimately, he lost more than I did. Unfortunately, I’m the one who suffered his presence. We live and we learn though! I’m learning that American men come with different red flags from the rest of the world. I’ll watch them with a keen eye for now and keep my distance. 😅

      2. Yes as soon as this virus calms down you can even come in and use the bathroom and laundry! In my experience good American men are the minority, especially in your age range.

      3. Awesome! I plan to have a composting toilet onboard but will definitely make use of the laundry! I’m looking forward to being able to head out again. I’m surprised I’m not more antsy than I feel, probably because I recognize keeping my butt at home for now allows me to save for bigger and better adventures ahead. 😂

        Especially in my age range is about correct. I find millennial American men to be very complacent about life and feel very entitled to women and success without putting in the work to earn either one! I’ve met very few exceptions. Mom says I need to date older men but they come with their own problems as well. 😅

    2. That was true for me too! I often wish my second marriage had been my first, but then I had a lot of growing up to do, so it’s probably just as well Pete and I didn’t discover each other until we’d each had some time to mature.

      1. My mom would probably say the same of my stepdad. I suppose most of us have a round two tucked away, if necessary. We’ll see. ☺️

  2. you better have a very nice air conditioner in your plans or love the HEAT! we have had temps well into the 90s and im sure out in the JT area it has been in the 100s. a little bit too early for this heat. the skies have been very clear without all the car use.

    lockdown has curtailed travel to see my gf and do trips with her. also it has curtailed me going out locally looking for photo ops and have lunch at my favorite places.

    being an only child, i was always playing more by myself than with friends.

    1. Us only-child people do tend to love our own company, don’t we? 😂 I’m sorry to hear it curtailed plans with GF. I picked up as much from your posts on here. Cali is taking the right steps, but it certainly does get in the way of other things.

      I plan to spend my summers in northern Arizona around the Grand Canyon area, where it’s much cooler and then high-tail out of there before the snow comes. I figure if I’m in a tiny home on wheels, why stay somewhere if the weather sucks? 😂

      I’m also used to living much closer to the equator than Cali, so I’m pretty used to 80 and 90s and prefer heat over the cold any day.

      I’ve never experienced 100s, but I imagine it might still be a little better than 98 in Georgia with humidity!

    1. I agree with you 100%! The only thing I miss is traveling and one can always travel alone. 🙂

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