When you live alone you carefully chew every bite of food, lest you choke and are forced to rely on your cat to perform the Heimlich maneuver. In the shower you think, “What was that?” at the littlest noise, positive it’s an intruder and your end of days.
Here are five other realizations that come from shacking up with, well, no one.
The difference between clean and clean enough. Without a roommate, your true code for cleanliness is revealed. Living with others, you are expected to wash every pot and pan immediately after preparing a meal to throw it back into the roommate rotation. Now you can let that sink pile up for as long as you want. Hell, you could wait a full 24 hours before tackling that ceramic Everest. Why not eat your spaghetti dinner directly from the pot and only break out the plates and cutlery on special occasions? Plus, if you use that pot for savoury meals only, you’ll never even have to wash it—thus building layers of flavour and freeing up time for other favourite activities of single-dwellers, like talking at the television or not wearing pants.
Every room is yours. When you live with family, friends or randomly assigned college freshmen, one room (usually the bedroom) becomes your sanctuary. But when it’s just you and your environs, every room is yours! Yes, that warrants an exclamation mark. It would even be acceptable to shout this from the rooftops, but as my landlord has forbidden access, I’ll refrain. When I first moved in, I shied away from other rooms and kept only to my bedroom, where I had clustered all the furniture that would fit. I was like a rescued kitten that needed to be exposed to her new surroundings in segments until she was familiar with her new digs. Now I’ve spread out. The kitchen, with its window facing Bathurst Street, is loud and filled with and clacking; at the sink is where I do my best thinking.
Freedom. If you’re like me, you can make the case for keeping Christmas twinkle lights up year-round. There is no one to protest, no one to scoff at the fact that you still have a photo with your ex-boyfriend framed on your mantelpiece because it was up before you even started dating and it is a good memory and the breakup was amicable and I really do think his new girlfriend is super nice. It doesn’t matter. There is no one to scrutinize the number of cereal boxes housed in your cupboards or doubt that cereal constitutes a full meal. A fridge stuffed with frozen vegetables and microwaveable macaroni and cheese? I don’t need to tell you that single occupants can’t eat fresh produce fast enough before the expiry date. Living alone means you’re free to eat your cereal in the nude and plop your naked buttocks on every available flat surface.
There is nowhere to hide. With only you to keep as company, living alone means getting closer to yourself. And at the risk of coming off totally bonkers, I do talk to the voice in my head. It is my inner voice. Before moving in to this bachelorette pad, I had been running from aloneness, from isolation and quietude. Living with roommates, especially friends and family, can form a tight little unit. You all exist in this bubble; you develop a routine and become deaf to anything that could upset the fine balance. But to negotiate each day alone is to grow into yourself. I ride the minor accomplishments and come up with little systems and routines, without which the delicate equilibrium of my existence would buckle.
Loneliness. Get a cat.