Tag Archives: living alone

Why Being Alone Makes You Ready For Something More

Nine months ago, when my parents shut my apartment door behind them, quietly extricating themselves, my biggest fear was something altogether unexpected.

It wasn’t starting my first job out of college, flying solo in a brand new place, learning the names and faces of strangers. It wasn’t mastering my Saturday morning route to Target or analyzing the best times to grocery shop.

I was scared because, for the first time, I was alone with myself.

singleortaken

In high school, I had clung to lack of a relationship status the way one might a shrunken recreational league soccer t-shirt from their youth: with the comfort it brought, the fear of being somebody’s Somebody much too much to stomach.

Then, mid-way between high school and college, I jumped feet first into a real relationship. It felt a bit like landing in one of those sidewalk chalk sketches in Mary Poppins: like this world was always beneath my feet, but I’d been too busy fearing the fall to see it.

For eighteen months, I became half of someone else’s whole. I let that relationship consume me.

My habits, my opinions, my unsure tendencies? They wrecked me.

For almost three years, I alternated between being defined by others and closing them out for fear they might not like the person they’d pinpointed.

People pushed me into corners, telling me I was never as good as them. I let myself become best at one thing: not handing my whole self over.

And so while I wholly adore the life not tethered to another breathing soul, it’s probably for all the wrong reasons: that I’ll be judged, in the worst possible way, as someone who cannot possibly be understood over a plate of pasta or a cup of coffee; that I’ll be too quiet, too thoughtful, too introverted, too passionate about all the wrong things; that I will be the sort of person who makes you cock your head and think, “Huh, well if that’s what makes you happy…”

And that’s wrong. Let’s just call it what it is.

We weren’t meant to tout singledom like an exemplary indication that we are somehow better for not putting our heart into someone else’s hands and closing their fingers over it, whispering a brief “please be careful” before kissing their cheek.

We are not better. We are not worse. We are just in this place where right now, aloneness is the scariest, most rewarding thing we need to hold. Not hands or hearts or silver diamond bracelets, but our truest selves.

That’s what this living alone, this owning up to myself, has been. It’s what being single should allow: a moment, however brief, to know who you are when you don’t have to be somebody, when you don’t have to impress somebody under some false pretense to make them stay.

Someday, you’ll be able to jump into a relationship and know you really, really dislike folding the laundry, or wearing your hair up, or driving fifteen miles over the speed limit.

You’ll feel content with that, won’t have to messy it with self-effacing thoughts.

You’ll feel right when your hand finds another on a snowy Saturday afternoon.

You’ll know, maybe for the first time, that you don’t have to apologize for you. And you’ll be OK to dive into something more.

Advertisements

The Saddest Reason To Buy Taylor Swift’s RED

It was supposed to be for boot socks. Wool ones in fun, speckled colors. A two-pack of knee highs for eight dollars. But that isn’t what happened. That was never the plan. Not really.

On the way over, before I even so much as saw the red neon sign, Anna Nalick lied to me. She said I could just wait it out, this temporary storm, and wake up in a couple thousand days.

It was my own voice that cracked beneath that promise, my car idling at a red light. Anna was wrong. I knew that. I knew there was no hide-and-seek for 20somethings. There would be no hiding for the girl who doesn’t come home to someone else’s muddy boots.

How nice it would’ve been to turn the bronze key, unload my belongings, and catch the smell of something on the stove or a candle flickering on the countertop or the washing machine sloshing a load of whites.

True Confession: Some nights, I turn the dishwasher one and head back to the cold air. When I return, half an hour or forty-five minutes later, it is like my apartment has lived without me: moving and bustling emptily. This is, arguably, the most relieving and undermining feeling in the world.

So I chose HEATED DRY and found myself halfway to broken. There’s nothing you can do when you find cracks in your day that you cannot fill with someone else’s sorry days, someone else’s needs.

The boot socks didn’t have flecks. They were black and grey and white and I needed a little dab of color, even if no one else would ever see them. That’s how I ended up in ELECTRONICS.

And it’s the saddest reason, really, I’ve ever bought a CD: I needed to know that those of us on the cusp of 23 were broken not because we were weak, but because we gave slices of ourselves, limb by fragile limb, to the whipping wind and the turquoise sky and tornado warnings scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen. We gave ourselves to the kids who died too young and the ones who forgot how to love us.

I needed to know that not every story ends with Should’ve Know or Nice Try.

I needed to know that there was a spectrum of alternatives not printed on fortune cookie inserts or shaken to the surface of a Magic 8 Ball.

I needed to know that I wasn’t just a blue-eyed girl with frayed jeans and hopes that would always be too high.

I started thinking about the way we see ourselves and the way others perceive us. And I wondered if the cashier would look at me and see a broken girl with a broken budget and a conveyer belt full of all the words she wanted someone else to tell her. I wondered if my eyes were tired, if my feet were dragging across the tile floor, if I had stood long enough in front of that display and debated whether or not I needed a confidante who wouldn’t even bother to call me for coffee.

I decided that I did.

It’s the saddest decision, when you are alone and so desperately waiting for someone to listen, to get it, even if that someone has never so much as tried your name on her lips. Even if that someone has too many heartbreaks to worry about yours.

Target and Taylor have never let me down. But man, I wonder how I would’ve felt to say I didn’t need that, just could use some socks to keep my feet warm, just some socks please. Would it have felt better?

Red Rover, Red Rover. Send the L word over.

These days, I am having trouble saying the L word out loud.

It’s easier to stick with concretes. To fill conversations with words that sound so sure, so matter-of-fact, that they leave no room for the things that go unsaid.

Like, “I am busy. I am learning. I am growing.”

Like, “It is quiet & empty.”

Quiet & Empty.

And yes, it is. I can type text messages and emails to tell you how it looks sitting inside a bedroom lit with a lamp I haven’t used since I purchased it three years ago, begging my mother to change something in my townhouse. Something to turn the light on in my life.

Because it felt quiet & empty. Dark & deep & uncontrollable.

But it wasn’t. Not then. Not when you’ve got three loud souls and a cookie sheet with wax paper cooling on the stovetop and a couple of classic rock songs filling the spaces between Me & You & Her & She.

Now, though, I know how to shut my mouth and swallow my fears and let me tell you how overrated it is to keep quiet, stay empty, when all you want to say is “Where is everyone? Where is everything I’ve ever known?”

You learn to send messages at midnight, filled with half of what you want to say and most of what you cannot bear to speak when the sun streams through your bedroom window and rouses you from your mattress.

You master the non-sentence, the fine just fine, the concrete descriptions of what it feels like to be Somewhere You’ve Never Known Existed Until April.

A place you never dreamed about. A place that looks far different from your parents’ house and your best friend’s trampoline and the stretch of brick houses linked together by laughs and kegs and red Solo cup trails leading to your neighbor’s front porch.

You clean and vacuum and wash dishes because you don’t want it to feel dirty. Don’t want it to look lived in. Don’t know what happens when you Let Go & Breathe.

What happens when you say the word out loud.

When you say, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send the L word over.”

And break through all the noise. All the silence. All the things that come with saying it out loud for once. To someone other than your pillowcase or your shower curtain.

And so you whisper it to yourself and wait for the feeling to pass. You send emails to girls you’ve never met and shake your head the minute you hit Send. Embarrassed & afraid & unsure & wishing there was an I Take It Back, It Was Just Hypothetical button.

But I cannot take it back. Because it’s not hypothetical.

It’s real. And it sleeps next to me. Hides in my medicine cabinet. On the kitchen table I forget to use.

And it somehow feels worse, doesn’t it? Knowing you’ve got a couple hands’ worth of names to call and letters you could send and numbers you could dial but all of them are out of arms’ length.

Say the L word.

Say it.

Say it.

This is the closest I can come.