Leslie Jamison is the author of The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath, a critical memoir, two essay collections—The Empathy Exams and Make It Scream, Make It Burn—and a novel, The Gin Closet. She directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia. (May 2020)
an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, through July 1, 2020
People told me motherhood would feel like deprivation—losing time, losing sleep, losing freedom—but in the beginning it felt more like sudden and exhausting plenitude. Turns out there were more hours in the day if you never slept.
Being a single parent is like being a parent except you’re always alone. Being a single parent in quarantine is like being a parent except the inside of your mind has become an insane asylum echoing with the sound of your own voice reading the same picture books over and over again. My daughter and I haven’t left the apartment in four days, ever since I became symptomatic. When I wake with my heart pounding in the middle of the night, my sheets are soaked with sweat that must be full of virus. The virus is my new partner, our third companion in the apartment, wetly draped across my body in the night.