“Grief, Disguised As a Lack of Lemon Ricotta pancakes”

Photo and Words by Megan Saint-Marie

As an introvert, it may sound weird, but I get a sense of connection from sitting alone in restaurants or coffee shops and writing, reading, or just having a meal, briefly chatting with someone at the next table or stool.

I would willingly wait over an hour in line to get my favorite lemon ricotta pancakes, strong black coffee, and connection and banter with my favorite server. It picked me up the way a new pair of earrings might for someone else.

I woke this morning, in my 10th week of social distancing and home sequestering, to an enormous, overriding sense of sadness and after reflection, recognized it as grief.

As the day progressed, I realized that it is grief over the uncertain future of spending time in my favorite places, supporting my local eateries, meeting up with friends for meals, and the very real possibility that that way of life may have come to an end, at least in the easy, cavalier, spontaneous way we used to enjoy.

I currently live alone, and many times during these last weeks, have been grateful for the freedom of my own space, the freedom to stay up as late as I want, sleep in without interruption, and have no one to get on my nerves. That being said, phone calls with loved ones can only go so far.

I ran into a dear friend at Trader Joes last week, and we both awkwardly started to go in for a hug, only to stop mid-point, perched on the invisible line of fear, and a social no-no. His daughter, whom I had not met, was with him, as was my daughter, and it felt so foreign to not at least shake hands, or more probably, hug. He grew up with hugs and such expressions of friendliness that I think we both felt stifled.

As the weather turns to summer, my inclination is to turn toward the sun, and I am painfully aware that this sadness and loneliness is both from lack of human connection, and lack of the connection of many things I took for granted and now recognize as the little gemstones in the jewelry box of this shy introvert.

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