Living alone is not quite everything I thought it would be
10th Nov 2022
I've always wanted to live alone, viewing it as the greatest symbol of adulthood, and let's face it, because Carrie Bradshaw did it and I started watching Sex and the City when I was far too impressionable. The truth is I will likely go broke for a HBO show that has not aged well, but this is the highly privileged bed I have made for myself and the excitement of nipping to the loo in the nip outweighs the rent increase.
In my mind, living alone offers the ultimate space and freedom to do what I want, when I want. Mainly what I want is to sit semi-naked, moisturizing and eating an omelette right out of the pan while watching Peep Show for two plus hours post shower. I actually can’t think further outside the box but that’s always been the dream, and at last it is mine after much Pinteresting, lease signing, painting and screwdriving.
The decision to go it alone brings with it, a break up of sorts, platonic but no less painful. You may have heard me mention “FSC” or Favourite Second Cousin in my previous columns – connoisseur of drunken cheese boards, the one with the eidetic memory who reminds me of boy’s-I’ve-slept-with-names. FSC and I have been friends since we were fetuses, no really, there are pictures of two pregnant bellies side by side to prove it. FSC has been there for every minute of the Australia chapter and for this reason the big move to “real adulthood” is challenging. With every miscellaneous drawer emptied and every box packed I want to hide behind her legs like a toddler seeking comfort, comfort from figuring out how to move a fridge or set up gas or really, truly, remember to turn off the hair straightener before I leave the gaff. Don’t even get me started on building Ikea furniture. It is not the “wonderful everyday”, it is flat packed hell on earth.
This is big. FSC is potentially my last ever room-mate before I trick someone into falling in love with me because I don’t think I can go back to a not-knowing-who’s-been-eating-my-peanut-butter-it’s-your-turn-to-take-the-bins-out-is-it -necessary-to-have-the-TV-turned-up-so-loud at-this-time-of-night-situation, but more so, it’s what she and this move represent in this later twenties segment of being alive.
It’s the realization that while codependency is a beautiful thing, it carries its dangers because all things meet their end sooner or later, and the tighter we hold on, the harder it is to let go. “Growing up” accelerates when we get the job, or one of the dates actually goes well, or it’s time to settle down in the countryside, take off to another side of the world, or become a mum or dad. Forever is not a reality we can clutch onto forever, no matter how perfect. We make decisions, we decide to move, our country or our priorities change and it’s no longer feasible to spend Sundays side by side wrapped in a fleece blanket eating Thai food. With this comes a grieving process. FSC has been my metaphorical mother’s thigh and it’s time to let go.
It’s hard because “our person” is our mirror. FSC knows my mood based on what’s in the Uber eats bag, she can read my mind in group situations, she knows what kombucha to get me, when to give me a hug or give me space, when to wind me up and let me off. She is the person I have deep meaningful chats with in the car, she knows if I do a heavy sigh it’s her turn to fill the dishwasher, she’s been there on standby to hear about my dates, to read the weird texts/emails I’ve deployed, to ask what I want from the shop, to be the heads to my tails on the couch and watch countless, countless episodes of Kath and Kim and The Office with. She’s the person who can make me keel over laughing with a single word, the person I love to cook for the most, the enabler of many hangovers and the soother of many stressful days. She hates hugs but her presence feels like one. I think I’m describing a marriage and we have definitely discussed finding a Tiger King loop hole and getting married if we find ourselves alone in old age. If I was ever going to pursue a sexless marriage, she would be it.
What she represents, this newfound land of being a grown up woman with more than one bath towel and coasters, has made me realize that it’s not as effortless as Carrie Bradshaw makes it look. I have been living alone now for a week now and still no nude omelette, or wild sex, I don’t have a fabulous rail of clothes in every room, actually, I don’t have any kitchen utensils.
I do, however, have a list of things that have happened in my first seven days of living alone though, and I want you to have them:
1. On weekend one, I drank two coffees in one hour and entered a caffeinated spiral, believing that if I dropped dead I wouldn’t be found for days. I was so up to 90 I had to go for a hot shower and skull a milky tea for comfort. During said episode I text FSC a simple and unexplained: “am I okay?” truly believing that she would just know.
2. I spent two intense hours assembling a bed with a mate to come to the conclusion that actually there is quite a difference between a double bed frame and queen sized mattress.
3. I have tried and failed to enter the dark web to buy pepper spray because I read a scary Facebook status about a house burglary that happened 15 kilometers away from me and am enough of a narcissist to believe that I’m next on the robber’s list.
4. I have spent hours compiling images of FSC and I into one folder on my phone. The digital shrine is giving off serious rip.ie vibes and I want to de-categorize the images now that I have had this thought.
5. My idea to not get a microwave because I want cooking to be a mindful experience is the stupidest idea that I have ever had. My new microwave will be arriving from Kmart soon.
6. I have listened to Optus 5 (that really horrendous hold music) for approximately 3 hours and I still don’t have WiFi, writing this article will probably cost me 37295726 dollars in data (FSC always did these admin jobs in return for homemade burrito bowls) and I CURSE myself for not getting to grips with more of this stuff sooner.
7. I have randomly started crying and laughing at multiple and mundane things for no other reason other than I can be as unhinged as I like and don’t have an audience for it.
8. I have bought new toothbrushes but not toothpaste, pasta but no pesto and soft furnishings but nothing functional. Who needs to connect their washing machine when you can get cute art decor prints from Etsy? Why investigate why your fridge sounds like a tractor when you can paint a TV unit pink? I am much more basic and clueless than I think but no one is here to see it and it feels both liberating and dangerous at the same time.
9. I keep walking 5 minutes down the road to get a coffee and somehow end up a 45 minute walk away from the house, and have realized that I really and truly don’t know how to work Google Maps, and to date have been memorizing walks with FSC to have any idea of time and space.
10. I have realised that even though this is actually a lot harder and scarier than I thought it would be, I can do it.
Change is awful, I’ve never liked it. I often wonder how I managed to move to Australia in the first place when it is largely the opposite to everything I’ve ever known, but here we are, and it’s ~gnarly~ so even though it feels awful now, I know we find our new normals alone and together as we grow and develop. What’s that horrendous saying again? “Good things happen outside the comfort zone?” I would double-check that but again, no wifi and no clue. I’ll probably message FSC instead of Googling it.
Photography by HBO.
This article was originally published in May 2022.