I’ve been telling people that this is the only time that I’ve lived alone. I guess it technically is, other than a brief odd period of time that I lived in someone’s basement for a summer. I was working at a home for developmentally disabled adults in Winston-Salem, NC and a truly lovely older couple opened up their basement apartment to me for the summer. Despite a seemingly sweet deal, I spent most of my time at work or traveling to see friends. I just didn’t feel as at home with myself then.
Living alone was more of a burden than a joy. I barely slept in that space because I couldn’t stand the sound of my own silence. Being alone with myself felt like company whose conversation wasn’t interesting enough for me. Always looking over their shoulder hoping that someone would enter into the moment and make it more exciting.
If I could go back and talk to myself at that time, I’d tell her to enjoy it. To take in the silence, to not be bored or afraid of her thoughts. I’d tell her that solitude isn’t something to fear, rather something to grow through. I’d challenge her to just be there fully and to see how it felt to get to know herself a little bit better. I’d tell her that it’s not selfish to love yourself.
I’m packing up my apartment this week and moving in with my partner Oby. I’ve loved this place. I’ve loved the dinners shared on the floor before I’d found furniture. I love the afternoons of photographing products with the windows open and a record on. I’ve loved being able to organize my shelves and closets in the exact way that I’d like and man have I loved that the only food in the fridge and dishes in the sink are mine.
In a way I’ve transitioned to enjoying my own company so much that it’s easy to forget that I do in fact need other people; that we belong to one another and despite my independence, I do gain inspiration and energy from the people that surround me. A small piece of me will miss having my space created just the way that I wanted it to be. But, I imagine if my younger self could speak to me now she’d say something like, “Don’t take the people in your life for granted. Look them in the eyes and feel the magic they hold inside of them. Believe in the best in people and always make time to hear a stranger’s story.”
I guess we’ve both got a lot to learn from each other.