Does anyone remember the movie "Must Love Dogs" with Diane Lane? I barely remember most of the film - the most memorable character was that gorgeous Newfoundland pup that followed Diane around (though he served very little purpose in the plot, considering his titular standing). Regardless, one scene has always stuck out to me. It's when good old Diane (God love her) flips out at the butcher because he won't give her a single serving of chicken. She proclaims that she is going to eat dinner hunched over the sink, alone, and does not need more than one serving.
I hear you, girlfriend. This is not a lament over being single - I have recently tried to not be single and have found that my job, like it or not, currently occupies far too much of my free time for me to consider full-time romance. I'd likely have to give up videogames and/or the stairmaster to be in love and let's face it - homey won't play that game.
But Diane raises a key point. This living alone business may have its high points, but on the whole it is for the birds. I can't take it. I miss having people around. I miss waking up on Saturday morning and making Gary watch The Wire or hearing about Steph's crazy night in South Kensington. I miss Borough Market with Kaitlin and laying in bed with Jane and Ece. Going further back, I miss dragging Shaw and Hazen to garage sales or playing Mario Kart with Evan and Kissling or even flipping out at Joey for one reason or another. Most of all, I miss waking up to my mom doing the crossword puzzle on the couch, my dad pouring a fresh cup of coffee, and my brother being passed out in front of some horrible movie like Farce of the Penguins or Dumb and Dumberer.
My South African experience has shown me some of the perks of living alone. I'll share a few with you. I have discovered that it is incredibly fun and deliciously naughty (this shows how sheltered my life is) it is to take a spoon, dip it in the peanut butter, and then dip that same peanut-buttery spoon into the jelly jar, and then eat it! Trust me former roommates, I did not do this during our time of cohabitation. However, I wish I had. One spoonful of this glorious combo is like a full dessert without the clean-up. And it feels so wrong but so right!
I can also do things like have a drink at 11AM on a Sunday. When living with others, it feels a little odd to whip out the gin before noon. However, living alone (especially in South Africa where I hardly drink on weekdays) I can do it without the bat of an eye. I can also play video games at any moment of the day - when I'm not working, of course. There's nothing quite like getting up for a 6AM round of Smash Brothers without fear of waking someone up.
Then there is the naked issue. Living alone gives you the freedom to be naked whenever you want. However, I've never been much of a naked person. I'd venture to say that, after years on the swim team and lots of camping and all of that that I'm much more comfortable nude than the next person. However, I find little enjoyment in sitting around the house naked. I just feel like a deviant and I'd worry about injury in the kitchen.
There is also the very necessary but very temporary need to misbehave in all of the ways you could not in your youth. Eating ice cream for dinner, sleeping on the couch all night, watching tv while doing your homework - the spirit of rebellion lives strongly in all of these mundane activities. I settled into a delicious bowl of Cherry Garcia for supper a couple of nights ago and I felt like James Dean - pure rebel.
One can also think of clever new exercise and dieting techniques without fear of scrutiny. A few days back I didn't feel like getting in the car and going to the gym. So, I decided to play a Disney exercise game (like a drinking game but lamer). I put in Beauty and the Beast and every time someone on screen was singing I would do an exercise - I rotated between jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push ups. You can also crash diet without looking like the depraved individual that you obviously are. When I came to South Africa I had just spent a week eating and drinking in rural France. Yum turned to glum when it was time to put on my skinny jeans. So I embraced the Special K diet with abandon and, as opposed to my last attempt at it, I moved back to a normal diet once the desired results had been achieved. Success.
Overall, though, I'd have to say that this living alone business is more of a temporary fling than a love affair. For every stolen spoonful of PB&J there is a terrifying bump in the night. For every indulgent game of Mario Kart there is the lack of a response from the couch next to you when you exclaim "I just killed you with that red shell!" And there is the constant fear that you'll become just a little too comfortable with being alone and the next thing you know you're setting a place for your cat at the dinner table and leaving your toenail clippings on the coffee table.
I don't think humans are solitary creatures. I'm pretty confident that one day I'll do all of those fall-in-love and have-a-family type things, so I'm not completely terrified about the future. But I think sometimes the fear of being alone is so great that we actually embrace it. I'm so happy that I've gotten to know myself even better in this last month of domestic solitude, but even if I was the coolest person on Earth - one is still the loneliest number.
Gotta run - there's a spoonful of PB&J waiting for me in the kitchen.