Friday, September 11, 2009

Sabor de Soledad

I'm adjusting to living alone again. I haven't lived alone since the second year of my PhD, and in the intervening years, I got used to co-existing with people. I'm not saying I co-existed well. But I get used to the fact of living with others, and now it's very strange to be alone in an apartment again. The nice thing about having a cat, though, is that you can entirely justify talking to yourself. You're not crazy. You're just having an interspecies dialogue, like Donna Haraway is always encouraging us to do.

I've noticed that the quality of aloneness is different, though, when you have a partner and you're involved in a long-distance relationship. When I was single, being alone was something that I both accepted and invited. I enjoyed living by myself. Now I'm not so sure how I feel about it anymore. I used to think there were certain things--Secret Single Behavior--that you could only do if you lived alone. But then I discovered that there are people who will actually let you do these things in front of them, without judging or complaining. In that sense, living with a partner/loved one can become like an exchange of secret behavior, where each person tries to up the ante slightly over a period of time, until one finally discovers a limit. Now that I'm living alone again, I find that I have nobody to gross out or mystify with my OCD behavior. It's just not as fun, and the cat gives very little feedback.

As I get older, though, I am starting to notice subtle shifts in the way that I live alone. I clean more now, for instance. At 20, there's a certain perverse satisfaction in letting your own filth accumulate. At 30, it's just annoying to see dishes in the sink or a dirty carpet, so you clean it for aesthetic purposes. When I live with someone, I generally need to be prodded to clean, but once the suggestion's in my head, I'll clean anything. When I live alone, I find myself cleaning even more, simply because there's no possibility that the cat will actually clean anything herself.

I do hate carpet, though. I find it impossible to go from hardwood to carpet. Hardwood gets dirty, but all you have to do is wash it. Carpet gets gross, and there's always the fear that you might spill something on it. Hardwood makes a room appear lighter, more inviting, whereas carpet just reminds me of how many shades of beige there are in the world.

I'm also concerned about the strange fissures in my ceiling, but that's probably just paranoia.


Tez Miller said...

Carpet gets gross, and there's always the fear that you might spill something on it.

And then there's the fear that the cat might vomit on the carpet - now that is a bloody shocker to clean up. Usually I can get Manny to the lino or a window sill in time, but otherwise...yes, carpet cleaning had to be done. Then again, Manny's the bulimic type - hopefully your furry friend is not ;-)

Jes Battis said...

she's usually kind enough to hit the kitchen floor, but it doesn't happen often

Sebastiaan Bach said...
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