Back in college, when squeezing two people, two desks, two bookshelves, two dressers and an occasional boyfriend-sleeping-over in a room was the norm, I thought I never wanted to live alone. On those weekends when roommates would leave to go back “home” to their parents’ house, time alone would become unbearable — the extra room with no one to occupy it but me, the expansive space everywhere, the serious quiet, the feeling that I should be not at home by myself, but somewhere else entirely.
I wanted company, bustling movement, someone else to be in the room when I was. When I would ask, “So who are you living with next year?” and people would respond, “No one. I’m just ready to live alone, you know? No more roommates, no more having to share things…” I would widen my eyes just so and nod, as if to say that I understood the feeling of wanting to live alone. But in truth, I had no idea what that must have felt like.
The idea of living alone was frightening. Who would be there in the evenings when I’d come home looking for a friendly face to ask me how my day was? Who would I talk to when I wanted to kill some time before starting on a paper? What would happen if there was no one to hang out or talk to me the entire day??? I imagined becoming unsociable, like those who retreat to the woods to build their dwellings and make bombs of organic, combustible materials… This was the path I was sure those who chose — who liked — living alone were sure to take.
For the fifth time in the last 14 months, I’m on the hunt again for a new place to live. Except this time, I am not looking at the wanted ads for a new roommate. I skip pass all of them that read “Great 4 bedroom house with awesome roommates. You will have your own room but will have to share a bathroom with one other…” and have skipped ahead to the available studios and one bedrooms. After living with militant meatheads, giant controlling ex-Olympians, shitting dogs, dirty hipsters and off-kilter hippies, it comes as no big surprise to me that I’m ready to take this next step, but it is interesting in how far I’ve come from wanting to be with people all day every day.
To say that I am excited would be an understatement. Thrilled comes closer to identifying it, and sheer bliss is how I expect to feel after my solo living comes to fruition.
My idea of a good night is poring over the new IKEA catalog and picturing color schemes for my living room, or more accurately, the living room area that I will partition out in my studio.
When I tell Irene that I think I have found the couch, we stop to muse the significance of this purchase. She says this is a big step in life, and I wholeheartedly agree. No more late night partying, no more bringing strangers over. I’ll have real responsibilities soon, a couch to look after and come home too. And I won’t just be able to up and move. Now I’ll have to think of how that will affect the couch — where will it sit if I moved into a new place? Would it be comfortable with the new color of the walls or would it stick out like a sore thumb?
These are grown-up times we face.