I would not say my sex life was rip-roaring fun prior to the New York City-wide mandate of self-isolation. But now, to no one’s surprise, it’s a barren wasteland. Tumbleweeds.
I guess the most ironic piece of this is that right before coronavirus started settling in, I was feeling better than I have in a while. After a long-term relationship ended in the fall—followed by some short-term dating adventures in the winter that also wrapped up anticlimactically—I had taken a few months to acquaint myself with what I wanted and who I am and what I’m looking for. As of a few days prior to self-isolation, I was ready to start dating again. I even had a conversation with my therapist about it.
Instead I’m here, now, slowly devolving with baked goods and repeat viewings of Tiger King. I work in digital media, and my work life has been demanding since the start of self-isolation, even just being in close proximity to news every day. I haven’t had a lot of brain space to think about sex, but I’ve somehow had more than enough to think about being alone. So, for better or for worse, I’m here to present to you: A week in the life of my celibacy.
I’m writing this from the relatively early perspective of Week 2 of self-isolation, so right now I can say it’s so easy to not think about sex on a busy workday. Not sure if I’ll be singing that tune on Week 5. Luckily for me, the anxieties of our present crisis, compounded with my tenuous grip on reality, have me completely de-sexed today. An orgasm: One less thing for me to have to worry about. I finish work at 7pm, make myself a healthy dinner, and go for a walk in the cool evening. Rather than feel emotionally overwhelmed, I think of that time my ex [redacted] my [redacted]. I go home and take care of the situation myself with my vibrator of choice.
All right, so no, rip-roaring fun wasn’t exactly true for the past two months. I was sleeping with my ex. I was also sleeping with a woman. Since then, the woman has moved on to a woman who isn’t me. I see they’re quarantined together, according to Instagram. Witnessing it feels like a wound, but a wound of my own making. My ex has moved on to a life that doesn’t involve “me.” I still care about both of them. And both of them were great in bed. Sex doesn’t even cross my mind until right before I fall asleep. I think about previous lovers, but not in an intimate way, more in a fond way. Nothing arouses me in the moment. I miss intimacy. I miss embraces and fingers on skin. No telling when the next time is that I’ll have it.
In between watching Tiger King, I’m also watching High Maintenance. And something about the show just gets me hot. It could be the fact that it’s just genuinely good television. Or I could be into The Dude? I’m not sure. I pour myself a glass of wine right after I finish a particularly draining day of work that I feel lucky to have, and I pair it with Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese. I need to go to the grocery store again, but thinking about going these days gives me a lot of anxiety. I guess that’s the underlying theme of this sex diary. I end up pouring myself two more glasses of wine after streaming more episodes and am more tired than anything else so I scrap the idea of even attempting solo time. I swipe through Tinder for a while and feel completely blah. What’s even the point of talking to someone for weeks if you don’t know if you’ll like them when you meet in real life.
I wake up HORNY. Like this. I guess that’s a delayed reaction from last night. I know that if I jump right into the news I’ll turn it off, but it’s nice to feel true, primal arousal, in a way that’s different from nostalgia or dull desire. Call it my weird thing but… I read erotic lit online. If I’m tired of relying on memory or disinterested in anything visual (most of the time), this is my go-to. I’ve always masturbated to words. I read a mediocre story about a man and a woman on a bus, weirdly, and it does the job. I don’t think about sex for the rest of the day, but the more I look at the Cuomo brothers the more I’m convinced I would [redacted]. You know when I write redacted it’s not the editors actually redacting, right? I’m sparing you.
A notoriously inappropriate boy I know from living abroad–with whom I haven’t spoken in years–slides into my DMs and says, “The big question is how many times are you doing it a day” with a wink emoji. I do not respond. But I do think about it. I guess my unsexy answer is once, if that? I always considered myself a pretty sexual person, but the mix of emotional stress and work anxiety has me at a new libido low. I look absently at my Hinge account and see that four people have liked me. I nix them all. I still don’t feel like this is the right time or place for fostering any kind of connection. I know others do. Some of my friends are chatting with people on the apps. Maybe they’ll go on walks, six feet apart. A part of me envies them for being able to try right now.
Bored today and deeply craving gentle emotional intimacy. I know I can’t have the physical kind right now, so it makes me want to be soothed. I call my family members one by one, then FaceTime with my best friend, who lives in Manhattan and whom, obviously, I haven’t seen physically for weeks. I’d do anything to reach through the phone and give her a hug. I bake cookies from a cookbook my roommate owns and think about being held. I lie down to take a nap and curl around one of my pillows like it’s a body, thinking to myself that this isn’t even all that bad. Physical touch for the sake of physical touch doesn’t do much for me, anyway. I know when I’m out of this that I’ll need something primal and immediate, and I’ll settle for it. Afterwards, I’ll feel unfulfilled. When there’s tenderness, care, and respect behind touch, it means the world to me. I really wonder when I’ll find that again.
Graphics by Lorenza Centi.
MR Thoughtline is here! We’re sending out daily text messages to light up your phone and consequently your day. Click to subscribe.