I walk in the door, arms filled with bags and producing a bit of a stumble in my heels. I’m greeted by silence, and then the immediate pitter-patter of my cat’s paws as he runs towards me and grazes his body around the shape of my legs. He purrs loudly and I smile, putting down the bags and picking him up to then press his furry little body to my face in an embrace. I feed him and he roams. I then pour a glass of wine, throw a frozen meal into the microwave and open my computer on the kitchen counter. I walk over to the speaker system, plug my phone into the wires and press play. Booming words fill the empty space of my lonesome apartment. I close my eyes, and allow the words to wrap their energy around me, the way arms hold someone they love.
When people write about living alone they playfully discuss how incredible it is to roam your little apartment without wearing pants and blasting whatever embarrassing music you please. They say that no one steals your food or bothers you. No one makes a mess, or cares for your mess. No one does anything, because no one is there. This is all true, but there is also no one to care, either.
I never thought living alone would be glamorous or spectacular, but I suppose I also didn’t realize how alone it would make me feel at my core. I’m not sure if it’s more pathetic to eat alone or drink alone, but the daily combination feels infinitely pathetic. The harshest realization I have had yet is when I wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice if I somehow died in this place. What if I fell down the stairs and broke my neck, or ingested some horrible poison from my discount frozen meals, how long would it take for someone to know I was even missing? My family and friends are rather used to my poor response time, due to my usually hectic schedule. Therefore they wouldn’t think much of their unanswered messages, if there were any. My boyfriend would probably wait several days to feel concern, as he would more than likely be overwhelmed by the relief he experienced without the forceful banter of his intolerably talkative girlfriend. I have no direct neighbors that would be alarmed by a loud noise, or possibly the smell of a dead person at apartment 220. I suppose the only ones to notice would be those at my job, and depending upon the time of the week that may be several days also.
The dark side of living alone is that you start to feel downright irrelevant. You start to feel like you don’t exist. There is no one to ask you how your day is, or smile at your funny stories. No one sits beside you at the table or stays up to watch crappy crime TV with you. No one cares if you have a cold, haven’t slept or got stuck in traffic. No one tells you congratulations when you’re doing well, or wipes your tears away when you’re feeling low. No one cares, because they don’t have to. It’s the saddest kind of loneliness when you know it’s supposed to be that way.
The words blaring in my apartment are audiobooks of classic and tragic love stories. I live vicariously through the affairs of Anna Karenina and the suitor struggles of Bathsheba Everdene. The lives of the women in my stories, however tragic, present breath-taking romantics who care about their every move. Their circles are wide and encompassing. They are loved, sought after and desired, at least for some amount of time. I close my eyes and I pretend I am them, as I sit in my empty home with my lonely heart. I pretend I hear the voices of people in the other rooms who want and need me. I pretend I’m wondered about, maybe even dreamed about. I pretend I’m chased after, listened to and pined for like the characters are. I pretend I’m elegant and beautiful, living in a time when a woman of great passion and intellect would never feel ignored or neglected. I pretend someone is sitting beside me, just waiting to hear my voice. I open my eyes and the remarkably falsified painting fades, and it’s still just me.
I pick up my glass and stare into its dark and treacherous abyss, reminding myself that it is only the moments we feel alone that make us truly appreciate the moments we are surrounded by love. It is only the moments in which we build our strength, that lead to our own classic stories of passion and life. Now is not forever, and forever is not now.
“Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness.”- Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madden Crowd