I've never lived entirely on my own before. I kind of suck at it. Maybe I need more practice. Maybe I shouldn't be living alone.
My very first day in this apartment, I stood with one foot on my nightstand and the other on the railing outside my fourth floor window so I could hang a sheet over the door as a curtain and thought, "I need adult supervision."
The next day, I went out for four hours and left candles burning throughout the apartment; they were still lit when I returned home.
I didn't cook anything at all on my stove for the first week because it's a gas stove and I'm terrified of blowing up the apartment - or at least singeing my eyebrows. (I'm mostly over it now, and it's kind of fun roasting tomatoes over the naked flame so I can peel them easily.)
I'm having bacon and French fries for dinner; it's the only meal I've eaten all day. (Well, I did have a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino when I woke up.) Heeding the advice of my Belgian friend Francoise, I'll probably wash it down with a V8. Because, you know, vitamins.
I grew up in a standard-issue family: two parents, two kids, a variety of pets. I went off to college on schedule and had four different roommates over the years. I spent summers and holidays at home with the family. After college, I lived with my parents for about a year and a half before I went off to basic military training to share a room with 53 of my closest friends. Had a roommate for part of technical training school, then a room to myself while dating my husband-to-be, so that doesn't really count as living alone; then I got married. Sure, I've had days to myself in hotels or temporary living quarters during TDYs and military schools, but basically, I've always lived with someone.
Sometimes I resented this fact; I've felt cheated of some movie/TV/book-stereotype of freewheeling single life. I was looking forward to coming out here and figuring out who I really am at my core, without the influence of other people sharing my space. I brought cookbooks and kitchenware and thought I'd cook awesome meals of the kinds of food I want to eat, without having to cater to kids and a lactose-intolerant husband. I brought books and DVDs and my body weight in yarn. I even brought origami paper and writing paper and a journal and a cool fountain pen.
The reality is though, that even without my family, I'm still a wife and a mom. I might be living solo, but I am in no way single. I can't go out on dates - obviously (and to be clear, I don't want to!), and I can't just travel at the drop of a hat to wherever, whenever. I have a family budget to consider, not a personal one.
This week has been a bit of a revelation. The office is closed for the entire week for the Festival of Sacrifice, a Muslim holiday, and I've got the office Blackberry, so no trips for me. (That's a good thing, and I volunteered to take it. I have my fitness test next week, and I can't afford to go gallivanting about, eating out every day.) Without work and responsibilities to shape my day, I've naturally reverted to a creature of the night. I did get up at 0630 Monday morning to go for a run, but after that, all semblance of responsible adult-type behavior has slipped away. Even though I went to bed at a decent hour on Monday, I crawled out of bed at the crack of noon on Tuesday. Didn't even mean to. Didn't hear my alarm, and that's something that rarely, rarely happens. Since then, I've watched movies and played computer games and read until the wee hours each night. I might wake at 0700 regardless of how late I stayed up, but then I read until 1000, or 1100, or until I have to pee desperately and finally get up to take care of business and get a Frappuccino. I've watched four movies and a season of Dexter. I did knit one fingerless glove and am working on a pair of them. I've swept a little, and cleared off my table with the intent of dusting, and done a load of laundry because I enjoy clean underwear. And I wrote a blog, so there's that. But mostly, there's nothing driving my daily actions. No real reason to get out of bed each day except the need to pee. I can't be bothered to cook anything for just myself (and I never have the ingredients to make what I want), I owe nothing to no one, so what's the point of doing anything?
I feel quite disappointed in myself. Is this all there is to me? Without a family and dogs and work, I'm not really anything?
I know part of the problem is the job. It's not stimulating or engaging or challenging. It is very interesting, in a sociologist-studying-a-new-culture kind of way. But it's nothing to take home with me, nothing to need a break from. The other part is the family. I've done an awesome job of raising confident, independent children, and I have an awesome husband who doesn't need my help. We Skype once a week and Mike and I chat via Facebook, but basically, they have nothing to talk about with me. So I am unchained, adrift without an anchor. Curious to see where I end up, still wondering who I am.
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