i’m gonna sit down in public and not tell anyone

Restaurants in Miami Dade County are opening up again on August 31st for indoor dining, after a two-month hiatus, and I was so happy to hear it that I shot off a quick text to a friend, a very smart and tempered friend, and she wrote back saying, “Miami’s fucked.” Totally dejected. And suddenly I worried that maybe she’s super opposed to people like me, who go and sit in restaurants during a pandemic (albeit alone, and with the sole purpose of reading, and having a beer someplace other than home), and I thought, Shit, what a fluke!, I thought I’d communicated my excitement in that text but, no, she thought it was just a newsflash—and I actually sighed, and agreed with her, because I’ve seen folks online talking about people like me with such bridge-burning contempt, saying anybody who goes to a restaurant or café is a fucking idiot, selfish, a danger to themselves and others.

            Which I understand.

            It would be safer not to go out.

Untitled II by Fabian Perez

            But for the past few weeks I’ve been experiencing this welling angst, almost a panic, at the recurring thought—it’s so simple!, but so awful!—that I can’t sit down anywhere. I have one chair in my apartment (my roommate sleeps and works in the living room). So this chair, at my desk in my bedroom, is the only place that I may sit.

            There is noplace else in the city, apart from a friend’s home, where I may have a seat.

            Just this chair.

            Why is that so terrifying? It scares the shit outta me in a visceral way that only flashes up and fucks with me for a few minutes at a time, but it makes me wanna cut loose of my skin and run.

            Anyway. When restaurants open up next week I’m gonna go and read and drink beer but I’m gonna be discreet about it. Not cuz I think the people in my fairly small social circle will actually break away from me if they learn that I’m sitting someplace other than my apartment, but I can imagine their respect for me going down.

            And really, it can only go so far…

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