Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Who: Phoebe Bridgers
Where: Los Angeles, Calif.
Recommendation: Sending the text or making the call that you've been putting off
When I get a phone call, I'm paralyzed by fear. Whether the person calling is someone I talk to every day or someone I haven't spoken to in years, it doesn't matter. I just don't pick up. I don't even know why. Fear of bad news, fear of small talk. I want to know what they're calling about before I commit. My voicemail of course, is always full.
It happens every time, but every time it surprises me. I'll get a message from a friend and think, "I'll respond to this when I'm the real me. The person who responds to things." Time passes, and now my response has to include something about not seeing the text, but that won't work because everyone knows I live inside my phone, and the more I think about it the more I'm overwhelmed with dislike for the person I am. A person who cannot send a text message. And as I'm writhing in self-loathing, the text message just sits there, molding. I never thought that would change, but quarantine has changed me. I just cold-called someone in my family I haven't spoken to in years. It was awkward at first, but actually doing it felt way better than the hours of dreading and avoiding it.
My therapist says it's easier to talk on the phone right now because there's no real life risk of any follow-up. No obligatory "let's get lunch" at the end of the conversation. We're all protected by enormous moats. So I've found myself sending more emails, calling more friends to check in, and Zooming with my band every once in awhile. Have to say, it's really improved my quality of life.
If this applies to you, burn some candles and respond to something you've been avoiding for no reason. I made a playlist of non-distracting instrumental music to help.