Friends and heartthrobs of the past, future, and present: where I am now, the temperature has begun its gradual climb, and summer is preparing its eviction notice, but all the gentle breezes and drives with windows down and the incessant joyful choir of birds is only being dreamt of now. It is hard to say when I stopped fearing the end of the world. Perhaps I imagined it to be after I had met with those I lost. In the past weeks, I’ve been in quarantine, a sacrifice that me and many like me are making to give someone another day to live. And it has made me think about the interior of sacrifice and how high the stakes can be. On a run through an empty street, I listen to ‘superclean’ by the marias focusing more on the back end; the drummer kisses the ride cymbal while he slaps the snare hard and mercilessly every time he stomps the bass drum. My sweat sits heavy in my too-long hair; my barbershop has been closed for weeks now, its windows covered in brown paper. And the stores that are open are only open until 5 pm, after which the cops patrol the streets to see if anyone is living more than they should. It is almost as if there is so little life left that it is being carefully distributed amongst people in hopes that soon more life will come to us and everything will then be in abundance. I can hear a distant siren begin as a low whistle that bends into a loud howl. It seems like the end of the world but it is hoped it isn’t. People are dying blaming other people, as the desire for the arms of someone becomes a practicality. A beloved tells his lover that a day will come once more when they will lay in the same bed but until then she must stay indoors. But in truth he does not know of how long he would have to make that promise. In truth, he knows that only a miracle can bring them together again. When I was little, my mother would always make me wash my hands and feet every time I’d come back home. She’d tell me about how germs can make me really sick but she always stopped there, never said that a germ could kill me. At that time perhaps, that was not a possibility. And now it is, but now she doesn’t tell me to, perhaps she doesn’t want to be the one to say that ‘I forgot.’ Once, there was a girl in my school who I really liked but who was a grade older than me. I always wanted to tell her that she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my 14 years of living. And had she not jumped the 9th grade I would sit next to her everyday, but I can only see her in the break time when she buys a mango mezaan juice and a sandwich from the canteen and sits on the bench in the school playground. I saw you, from afar, I knew that you didn’t have any friends in your class because they were a year older than you. And then one day you saw me, and you smiled, and then I thought you liked me. And then a week later we kissed, and I touched another body for the first time, and I said I love you, for the first time, and I remember it was the first time I cried when washing my hands when I came home. The next day, I waved at you and you didn’t wave back. I said ‘hi’ and you walked past me. And then in the same week, my heart broke, for the first time. I’m on my final lap, and a soft John Mayer song, “Free Fallin” is being poured into me. John plucks the strings of his acoustic guitar and is so close to the mic that his lips are almost kissing the cheeks of every listener, and he is singing about a girl who is no longer with him or perhaps never was. His voice harmonizes with the final chord as both his guitar and him sing ‘I’m free… free fallin, fallin’ at the chorus of the song. And I sprint, as he pushes harder on the strums and screams “I’m free!” and then as the lap ends I stop. And mourn how I am decidedly away from someone I love. And in this distance I am mostly alone with the sorrows that cut through me and decidedly do not call her for the comfort. And so it has been useful for me to separate healing from comfort, even if the comforts are brief, or simply a needed noise to propel me from one fear to the next. In this pandemic, everyone around me is almost dead. One handshake away from never wrapping their arms around anyone again. It always seemed to me that a part of loving someone was to have already mourned the possibility of a world without them, so unlocking that grief was rarely a challenge for me. But, with new universes of grief opening almost daily, I don’t have much space to mourn. And so this sacrifice of warmth and comfort is necessary. The sacrifice of meeting the people you love is also necessary. For now, we must separate love and practicality. For now, sacrifice means survival and distance means staying alive. For those that use music as a coping mechanism like me, or attempt to sink into a song and wish to never swim up, know that you also should not want to drown. The idea should be that It makes for another brick in an almost insurmountable wall. In this way, music serves a baseline purpose. For me, it is something loud enough to drown out every other cacophony.