In my younger days, I began to become attracted to the idea that one day I would become a recluse. It was a sort of gradual attraction. All those parties during my early 20s when I would find myself alone on a sofa, giving me ample amounts of time to think. Sitting there quietly observing the rest of the goings-on, drinking diet coke, and pondering if anyone would notice if I slipped out and went home. One night, I did just that and no one noticed that I had left.
When the next party rolled around and I once again found myself alone on a couch, the idea began to occur to me. “Maybe I’ll become a recluse as I get older? That might be fun.” In my head, it was always this sort of idealized version of the concept. The idea being it would lead to a growing legend about me. That people would say “Oh, whatever happened to Andy?” Someone would respond with “Oh, he’s a recluse now. He just spends all of his time on his property, seeing only a few people over the year. They say he’s happy but who can say, he’s a recluse.”
I thought that I would grow out my hair and get a wild beard, the Howard Hughes route. I figure I’d wander my property all day in a shaggy pair of jeans and a worn, unbuttoned, long-sleeve shirt. I’d tinker with my garden and spend most of my time trying to fix the sprinkler system. I’d have people over maybe once a year. Just a close, inner circle, of people I trusted. Perhaps on Thanksgiving? An annual gathering of food and fun with those I hold dearest. But that would be the extent of my socializing.
Oh, I wouldn’t rule out the idea of having the occasional person over to visit throughout the year, but only one or two at a time. No major gatherings, with Thanksgiving being the lone exception. I’d take on a “cartoon closet” the same set of clothes in various states of worn. I’d have a nicer shirt and pants for Thanksgiving, but most of it would be a variant of the worn jeans and button-up shirt combo. There’d be bound to be a Panama hat in the mix somewhere, as it just feels right that there would be.
But the last year, which has been as close to being a recluse as I’ve ever been in my life, has taught me that I really wouldn’t like being a recluse after all. Even though people sometimes drive me up the wall and make me want to scream—I miss them. I miss sitting in a restaurant, I miss going to the Waffle House late at night and laughing with friends over dumb jokes. The fantasy of it does not mesh up with the reality of it at all. Not to mention that I really don’t like working in the garden so having to spend time fixing a sprinkler system would get old quick to me.
So that plan is dashed, Covid taught me that. I do know that as I sit here and start to see a bit of hope on the horizon for the first time in a week of Sundays, that I feel a bit hopeful about plans for the future. I know when this settles I’m going to travel and perhaps not eat at home for a solid month and a half. I’ve also thought about how I suspect that there will be a “period of adjustment” for us all.
We’ve spent so much time homebound it’s gonna take a while to get used to being out without getting worn down. The other day I went for a drive then stopped by the grocery store, and when I got home I was downright exhausted. I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel after the first post-pandemic improv show I’m in. Perhaps I’ll take some Geritol or something to keep me going for it?
Regardless, there will be no Reclusive Andy Ross for the time being. I may change my mind about that one day, but for now, I sit looking forward to when I can be among the populous again and laugh so loud it causes people at the other tables to stare at me. It’s a thing, it happens. My laugh has been used as a beacon to find the lost in times of great strife. See you next week.