Sheltering Solo On The Upper West Side: Tell Us About It

Flying solo? Photograph by Yann Kemper.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The other day, we posted a story about a man who put up a flier in Central Park, a kind of personal ad, seeking a mate. “I was single when the lockdown began and have been sheltering alone but would prefer not to be,” he explained to WSR, when we answered the ad, trepidatiously. “I imagine many women must feel the same, so I created this flier to reach out to one of them.”

At first, it seemed funny and possibly creepy, but it brought to mind a serious question: How are those in the neighborhood who are sheltering alone faring? Contrary to stereotypes, is it blissful solitude, no one to interrupt your natural rhythms? You take your morning shower at 4 p.m.? Have two Zoom visits before noon? Knock out a day’s work, a painting or a poem? Binge on a book or old episodes of Friends?

Or is it plain-out lonely? Does it make you mourn a lost love — or one you haven’t met? Is it endless hours of feeling disconnected and despairing? Loneliness can be emotionally agonizing and more physically damaging than smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day, reported Inc., which offers some remedies and insight.

“Loneliness isn’t the same thing as being alone. Some solitude is good for you…It’s also quite possible to feel lonely even when you’re around people. If you don’t feel as though those around you truly understand you, or if you fear that they wouldn’t accept you if they knew the ‘real’ you, being around people won’t necessarily resolve your lonely feelings.”

Let us know in the comments how you are doing if you are sheltering in place alone through these historic circumstances. Perhaps you have tips and advice for others. Perhaps you’ll feel better sharing. Real names are NOT required.

You can read about Conjugal Confinement; Couples  Quarantining here.

COLUMNS | 41 comments | permalink
    1. Westie girl says:

      I’m spending way more time on Facebook, checking in on friends. I spend so much time sitting that I’ve had to forgo jeans for sweat pants — easier on the rear end without those pockets. Books, crossword puzzles, magazines. I look forward to a daily, socially-distanced walk in the park and then the 7 o’clock salute to the health care workers when I can catch up with my neighbors. And I’m missing my dog now more than ever.

    2. UWSHebrew says:

      I am so thankful that I can go to Central Park every day to escape my apartment. If I lived in a part of NYC not near any park I think I would be going crazy.

    3. Airplane-nut says:

      Re: photo caption “Flying solo”

      Aircraft seems to be a Cessna Caravan, a single-engine turboprop designed for hauling pax (passengers) and/or cargo (under-fuselage cargo pod)

      Probably NOT flying solo, as company brochure shows a 2-person cockpit layout, and F.A.A. rules probably require a 2-person crew, esp when carrying passengers.

      • Carol Tannenhauser says:

        If I add a question mark – Flying Solo? – will that do it?

        • Airplane Nut says:

          Sort of…for 99% of readers.

          But, then, there’s us “wing-nuts”, who:
          1. can never avoid scanning the sky above whenever an airplane is heard;

          2. can never drive past KEWR (Newark-Liberty Airport) without slowing to watch take-offs/landings;

          3. arrive at the airport way before departure so they can watch aircraft taxi past (extra points to spot an Airbus 380 at KJFK).

    4. Amy Dylan Klein says:

      Looking for a husband. Tell me something about you and I’ll do the same.


    5. Gerry says:

      I’m simultaneously vigilant and thoroughly exhausted. It’s an existential exhaustion that sleep does nothing for. I’ve always worked from home, that hasn’t changed, but there’s a new heaviness on me that I try to “walk off” (with my dog in Central Park, responsibly) or “write off” (with short plays and monologues) but it lingers nonetheless. That said –Two things: There’s nowhere else I would rather be, and thank you West Side Rag for caring to ask in the first place.

    6. Barbara says:

      Yes my days are full and engaged, with friends and family on Zoom, masked walks to take, books to read, movies to watch, closets and files to clean BUT I miss a human touch and the presence of a human body closer than 6 feet. But they will return and we will appreciate them even more.

    7. pafnyc says:

      I live alone and generally really enjoy it, but that was when I was able to go to a job I love and had lots of interaction with people every day. I’m still doing the job at home (thank goodness!), but the social isolation even with some Zoom happy hours and lots of phone calls and Face Time with family and friends is really hard. I was taking MANY long walks and bike rides but that resulted in a major case of knee bursitis and now I’m really shut it. No fun. But I remind myself that I have good health and lots of people who love me, so I should really look at this as an extended inconvenience I can get through.

    8. Joanne Silverman says:

      I am relishing my alone time, especially seeing I’m not a “people person”. I am used to being alone. I have been rearranging my home library of perhaps 600 books, finding so many that I just have to read again or finally finish.
      Being alone with books, classical music, British television mysteries, and some “Late Night Thoughts on Listening To Mahler’s Ninth Symphony” (Lewis Thomas). They are the things that succor me
      One diversion I have never succumbed to has been social media so there’s nothing to miss with them. I get my news via online NYT, NYRB, Paris Review, and the BBC. They are more so enjoyable seeing I’ve the time to actually listen and read them.
      I do cry for those who are suffering though, especially those who’ve lost someone dear, and pray that during this holy season, some comfort can come to them.

    9. Julie says:

      Alone and suffering greatly. Landlord’s sloppy
      work in apartment above ended up as a flood in my apartment, which for health reasons as well as morale I was keeping immaculate and nice looking. I’ve been ill and confined to home for many years, living alone. The sense of being alone and having no one to call on for help, the landlord ignoring the extreme damage and no one to fight him has added to the stress of the virus threat, as I’m a prisoner at home. Landlord is harassing long term tenants, taking advantage of the corona situation.

    10. janned says:

      I am a 71-yr.-old widow sheltering alone. As I have a compromised immune system and damaged lungs, I am not going out at all. I have always valued my alone time, but it is different chosing to be alone and knowing you must be alone. It is lonely. Video chatting and phone calls do not replace human connection.

    11. Paula says:

      I’ve been sheltering in place and in quarantine since March 9. My March 8 client who appeared to infect me, tested negative for the virus. I’ve heard that bad pneumonias are higher than “the virus” cases in some places. But I digress. You want to know how I’m doing sheltering all alone with my cat and I? Oddly superbly. Once the worst of the illness was over, that is. Wasn’t sure I was going to survive it for the choking it causes. Fortunately, my now defunct private practice of 17 years was all about healing through simple and natural methods. That’s the part that breaks my heart. My private practice is closed, indefinitely. I had another career before this one in computers. I heard that Cobol programmers are hard to find these days. I can only work from home, so I hope there are some remote job possibilities. Certainly the Department of Labor’s Unemployment system could use some help. I heard the IRS needs coding help, too. It’s scary being your only family, your only support, and your only source of income. And yet … I’m uncannily calm and good-natured. “And this, too, shall pass.” I’ve been through too many hard times before. I know what matters during hard times: A good ‘tude and doing what needs to be done. Consequently, I’ve been oddly busy each day. Today, I finally found inspiration for a new resume. Something that will get maybe some unwanted attention, but if it works – the right people will want to employ me, disabilities aside. That’s what life tends to come down to, isn’t it? Finding the right people to work and live with. Right now, I’m focused on getting meaningful work. There is one thing that bothers me, though. Once people find out you’ve been sick, their fear kicks in and then getting help isn’t easy. For groceries, I’m indebted to Invisible Hands Deliver. Please support these volunteers however you can – I’m concerned that the volunteers are not allowed to accept tips. That’s just not right.

    12. hanginIn says:

      I half-jokingly fear that crowds will be unbearable after this in some ways healthy pause. Be well and present.

    13. John says:

      this is a test

    14. I am enjoying this time. I am a painter and am used to solitude. Every day at 7 PM I can applaud and yell out the window to share with the community, and I do so with gusto… Gusto, my dog.

    15. Milt Mankoff says:

      I am not alone, but have something to report that might be of general interest. I do online counseling, after a long academic career. Most of my clients’ problems involve relationships; a minority anxiety, depression, or other personal issues.

      During the past few weeks, when I would have imagined more people might be contacting me for help, the opposite has been the case. Others on the site I work on have had similar experiences.

      I think a possible interpretation, aside from diminished finances, is that the collective threat we are all facing has made our normal preoccupations less salient.

      If we are still well, we are grateful and have the mental energy to worry about others…those we know and strangers. The sirens we hear day and night remind us what matters and what is no longer all that stressful.

      It would be one good thing, perhaps the only one that might be part of the aftermath, if we could remind ourselves that many of our normal worries are optional.

    16. This whole thing is out of Ionesco or Bunuel; every day is the same day, and that day is Sunday. Instead of people turning into Rhinos, however, they’re slowly disappearing behind disguises that reveal antennas, hidden deep-set eyes & little else.

      I myself wear a hat (because my hair has become a scary gray & black forest) and my sleek black leather gloves, but no mask because… well, just because. BUT… if you’re on a food line YOU’D BETTER NOT COUGH, is all I’m saying.

      Luckily I don’t have to.

      My cousin Lenny died of this virus & I Zoomed into his funeral (first time, and in my underwear) which seemed to last all of 3 minutes… the camera op either was suffering from St. Vitus Dance, or maybe there was a coincidental earthquake ongoing, I’m not sure which.

      What the Rabbi had to say was muffled, but I assume he meant well.

      My kid brother has this virus too… and pneumonia, etc. I’m in the W.80s, he’s in the mid 30s, so when I can, I hoof it on down w/some bags of food… this is either an adventure or a soggy slog through our now haunted city, depending on the weather & getting up & down my 5 flights on my arthritic ankles. I pray for him night & day.

      My TV is hooked up to nothing, ever since the big bad wolf (AT&T) ate granny (Directv), but YouTube is a blessing.

      I sleep a few hours, then I’m up some hours then napping etc. Without a gym, I’ve lost what little vestige I had of normal clock-based life.

      I hate the tragedies visited daily upon the subway & bus workers. The Times wouldn’t print my note, so I’ll leave it here; the article was entitled: 41 Transit Workers Dead: Crisis Takes Staggering Toll on Subways

      Here’s my response:

      “What a tragedy for us all; the subway are our lifeblood and their leaders seem to be nothing but farm animals who sheepishly point to the head-spinning nonsense coming out of Washington for reasons why they didn’t keep the workforce under their care safe.

      They were followers of Washington paper flow rather than LEADERS, dismantling their peoples’ ad hoc efforts to save their own lives and now they all point their fingers south at Washington in explanation, as if that has any meaning whatsoever.

      I wonder how Andy Byford, who impressed so many with his evident concern and spirit would’ve handled this?

      Governor Cuomo is having his moment in the sun right now but the unrelenting pressure he forced upon Andy Byford, that hounded him from his job, will be a shadow that will not be forgotten, at least not by this strap-hanger.”

      Anyway, sorry for the rambling nature of this note; you can edit it down to a fare-thee-well. I REALLY appreciate the West Side Rag! Thanks again! -L.

    17. Anonymous says:

      I wished I lived alone. My roommates have not bought a thing to keep the apartment clean or to help stop COVID. They didn’t clean to begin with. I’m the only one who bought supplies, cleans, wipes off the surfaces, takes out the trash. We’ve had convos, but they’re basically useless. I keep thinking why do I keep living with people. I really need to find my own place when this is all over. One of them is so obnoxious and loud. She was literally on the phone from 4:30pm to way past when I went to bed at 1am complaining about COVID and how lonely she is.

      • Paula says:

        Dear, Dear Anonymous,

        I hope you escape that prison, soon, and curate a life for yourself that is wonderful for you.

    18. Joe C says:

      I’m semi retired, divorced and living alone here on the UWS however I have three wonderful adult daughters and grandchildren with whom I Zoom or Face Time with almost every day. I’m thankful for the technology. One day I think it’s easier to shelter alone in the city and the next day I wish I had family or a partner here with me. Either way, this has been a most unusual event and hopefully we will all learn a little bit more about ourselves and move forward even stronger.

    19. Anne Livingston says:

      These comments are wonderful— both happy and sad/ human element.
      I am lucky I have my job and, most of all, my dogs.
      I think it depends on where you are in life— I have grown children, ex-husbands, and ex-crazy boyfriends, and I cherish living alone! 🙂 When I was young, I think I would have been lonely.
      Hang in there everyone💕

    20. Sandy V says:

      Single and Solo

      My cruise was canceled. It was to sail last week and it did with just the crew. Celebrity Infinity, 4 crew members have died n so many ill. Ship stranded on the sea. Not allowed to dock. My Italy trip was cancelled. But, I had not unpacked for my 60s Flower Power Cruise. My suitcase still stands quite full with clothes and 60s costumes for the cruise that was not to be. I just clean around the suitcase n roll it from one end of my studio apartment to the other end.

      I was going out every other day to shop for extras. My cabinets are full n finally hit “Gold”. Found cans of LYSOL at the 99th street Hardware Store and my local bodega at 96th. street . Gold that is.

      Check in on my elderly neighbor to see if she is ok.
      Call my friends to see how they are doing. I prefer to talk on the phone. Hate texting.
      My inner sleep clock is all out of whack. Trying to set a regular sleep time. Netflick n Youtube late into the night

      Funny, miss the birds chirping. I have not seen many. Just a few pigeons here n there. Maybe, the birds are also in quarantine.

      But, I am blessed n grateful that I am safe.

      Keeping living as simple and One day at a time.

      Keep Safe,

      Sandy Valles
      UWS Gal

    21. CRA says:

      I’m actually doing okay personally. I of course have my sad and worried moments like everyone. I have great neighbors and friends whom I connect with by phone and video call, and whom I see at a very safe distance around the neighborhood when I go out to walk my dog. I will say that for me having a dog is really wonderful. It is comforting to have someone to take care of – another heartbeat around the house. I have worked at home for years so that part is pretty routine for me. I still make sure to have to-do items each day and week, but I also give myself space to be flexible with it, too. I’ve been able to do a lot of writing, at work, and research which is all part of my career and work I truly enjoy. I’ve also been spending some time each day helping others by sharing resources, making donations, and reaching out to people to see how I can help during this time. I absolutely miss my friends and family. I miss the energy and life of our streets. I feel for so many friends and neighbors who are struggling and I’ve found that by helping them, that’s also helping me.

    22. sparklegrl246 says:

      It’s been tough! I’m independent anyway, but this is a different level. I miss just interacting with another human being! I do have to go to work (medical provider), but the subway feels more scary with more homeless and sketchy people around. Everything is closed. There’s this feeling of desolation and depression throughout the city!

      I have been keeping busy with cooking, reading, calling friends, social medial, and watching TV.

      No happy hour or eating out is slowly killing me inside. New Yorkers aren’t meant to stay in their tiny apts.

      • hanginIn says:

        Thank you for your service! Stay safe and take care of yourself. The few subway stories I’ve seen sound pretty bad. I know everything is strained, but I hope some policing and other new strategies can be applied to keep you guys safer.

    23. Rasheed Mohammed says:

      42yo male, native new yorker:

      I gave up facebook a few years back and never hopped onto the other wagons of instagram, tiktok, etc. I felt the apps were a bit addictive – I’m not a fan of staring at my phone endlessly looking for some random nonsense to picque my interest.

      It’s unusually quiet as the neighbors are paranoid to step outside of their apartments. I try to take a short walks around the neighborhood. I also exercise in the apartment with push-ups and stretching in between meetings. I also trimmed my diet to leaner meals (grilled chicken salads, sandwiches, etc.).

      From what I understand, a lot of folks are working toward some personal goals that were previously unattainable because of physcially being in the office.

    24. Terra Nicole Cardwell says:

      I am sheltering solo and miss human touch. Sure, I can walk with friends in the park, visit with my doorman or call family, but it’s all at a distance.I can’t hug someone or hold someone’s hand or be comforted with a cuddle when this all gets too stressful. I can’t play a board game with someone or travel to spend time with a friend….I miss human touch

    25. Carol M says:

      I’m knitting a lot more. I knit hats for the homeless all year long and then give them away at Christmas time. I used to knit 1-2 hats per week, now I’m knitting 1-3 per day. Because there are no outside noises (construction workers, children playing) I listen to the radio and sing along It help pass the time. If you know how to knit and would like to help pass the time raech out to me at Carolscoziesand

    26. Judy Harris says:

      I have lived alone for over 40 years I need silence and solitude. I still go to Central Park every day, because my apartment is tiny and claustrophobic, and the park refreshes my soul with its beauty. I have practiced social distancing all my life, and the main difference now is I have to wear a mask and hunt constantly for toilet paper.

    27. In June when my husband of 50 years suddenly passed away I could barely imagine life without him. We had moved to New York barely 10 years prior to his passing to be able to enjoy all the city had to offer as opposed to Long Island where we had lived for all our married lives. The children were well set in their lives but all lived on the west coast. That situation led to many wonderful visits back and forth and joyous family vacations all over the world. I had just become accustomed to living on my own but keeping very busy and traveling easily. Now I find myself totally alone in my apartment maintaining social distancing and not leaving the building. . Kind neighbors whom I did not know before have been doing marketing for me and I keep busy with my art work which currently consists of bead weaving jewelry. Being alone has brought me back to the early days of grieving my husband but with determination I have come through those days and now am determined to accept this current life for as long as it takes.

    28. Greta says:

      Of course it’s lonely at times, mainly at night. That’s when the anxiety creeps in because as a native New Yorker, I’ve never heard the city so quiet. But for me, it’s a time to get closer to God. When I say God, I mean Jesus Christ, because I know with Him, I have eternal life no matter what happens here on earth. I have complete faith and assurance in Jesus and what He did on the cross. He is the author and finisher of my salvation. Along with my faith, I use the time for creative projects, crafts (I made my own mask out of a tee shirt), stretching and exercising and reaching out to friends regularly. But overall, I believe this is a time to ask the big questions and get in touch with what truly matters most. And I’d love to meet a man who truly shares my faith, equally yoked and all:-)) God bless you all!

    29. Hal C. Walker says:

      Self quarantined for 31 days due to preexisting lung condition. Because the great Larry Hart lived in my building, I’ve updated “Manhattan” in his honor.

      Stuck in Manhattan
      With hopes we’ll flatten
      This viral curve
      I hope I’ll live to see it swerve.

      Stuck in Manhattan
      No pizza rat in subway cars
      No Bros imbibing booze in bars.

      This great big city’s a petri dish
      Chock full of contagious fish
      Stuck in Manhattan
      Without a mask or knish.

      Stuck in the Apple
      A lonely chapel with empty pews
      Perhaps in time we’ll hear good news.

      Stuck in the Apple
      Where neighbors grapple for TP rolls
      Let’s hope we’ll see a drop in tolls.

      This viscous virus will not destroy
      The dreams of each girl and boy.
      Return Manhattan into an aisle of joy.

      • Paula says:

        My goodness! There are so many wonderful posts here … and then this poem to top them all off. Thank you!