The Hours: 3/23/20

By Lee Phillips

You know what’s really erotic? Rapunzel. A girl locked away in a spire, waiting for some sexy young dude to fly in and save her. 

Unfortunately, in our case, no one is coming for us. Except maybe Corona. While none of us are actually locked in our house like Rapunzel (knock on wood). We are all waiting for something out of our control. The world has been denied to us and denial is what makes desire, erotic.  I like to think of what we and Rapunzel are experiencing as “social-edging.” 

During lockdown, most of us are starved not only of sexual touch, but of the facets of our identity that we can not act on. So much of ourselves must be withheld. Just like "real" edging, social edging puts off interaction with others and with people we used to be. Suddenly we are forced to see our lives as a small sliver of what they used to be. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Maybe it took this social edging for me to realize: I don’t want to be friends with every single one of  the people that I used to be. There are versions of myself made impossible by lockdown, that frankly, I’m ok with cutting out. 

While we are trimming our social group and our own identities down to the bare bones, it can feel like we’ve become a blueprint of ourselves. Do we ride out the lockdown like this? Or do we re-invent ourselves? A kind of interior re-design charged with the erotic energy of being denied the reality and identity you once thought was so constant? If lockdown is social rehab, do we finally get clean, or just find new ways to get high? 

The thing about edging is that it only works when you do it intentionally. It's the same with social edging and with that interior re-design. Maybe that highly anticipated lockdown release feeling, like we’re running into a field of green grass, will only feel so good if we use this time intentionally, to cultivate a sense of who we want to be, so that when the world is no longer withheld from us, we know ourselves a little better.  Looks like I’m getting clean. 

When I talk about desire, lust and sex seem like such small sounds. Missing a lover seems trivial. All this mess makes you realize: at least they are there to be missed. That’s the thing about edging, it only works when you know something great is coming: that there is someone to be loved, a sleepless city waiting like an empty playground, some resolution to this tingly feeling in our lowest organs. Fear and promise. Fear and anticipation. Fear and hope. As Fitzgerald said to Zelda during his Spanish flu lockdown in 1920, “And yet, amongst the cracked cloud line of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.”


"The Hours" is a lockdown diary by Lee Phillips documenting one writers experience navigating the strange new reality with her words. The third entry contemplates the concept of "social edging," and what desire means during a time like this. For more, visit her blog.

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