What it’s Like to Live Alone for the First Time

It’s been a whole week since I moved into my new one bedroom apartment. A whole week since the grueling 72-hour weekend in which my dad and I (who am I kidding – it was mostly my dad) packed, unpacked, built, arranged, and rearranged an entire apartment. It was exhausting. We laughed. We cried. We shrugged our shoulders and said “it is what it is” a lot. We quoted random movies out of context and spoke in strange accents once we reached what I like to call “teenage girl sleepover mode,” the point of delirium. We ate at the same nearby diner three meals in a row – when we remembered to eat. I physically ached. I needed a weekend from my weekend.

But once it was all said and done, set up exactly how I (how I and nobody else!) liked it – I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

giphy (20)

My dad left, the dust settled, the remaining two boxes of knickknacks and jewelry could wait to be unpacked (are still waiting to be unpacked). Finally, in the midst of all the chaos that has been my life the last month, I took a deep breath, and smiled.

I was in my little oasis in the city, a place to grow and thrive and heal and relax, to create new memories doing the things I love, simply because they make me happy. The apartment is a blank page for me to fill with the people and objects and memories that I choose – I am both author and editor.

Of course living alone is definitely an adjustment, albeit a welcomed one. Here are a few such adjustments that I’ve come across in making the transition from resigned roommate to satisfyingly single.

  1. No surprises!
    When I walk in the door after a long day and turn on the lights to the kitchen, there are absolutely NO surprises. No dishes piled in the sink, no paperwork strewn on the tabletop, no roommates blasting music, cooking in the kitchen, or hosting unexpected guests. The house is exactly as clean – or as messy – as I left it.
  2. I no longer have to “get the okay”
    I once had a roommate who wanted to know literally every. single. time. that anybody – including my boyfriend – was going to be over because she didn’t like surprises (see above). I get it; it’s the considerate thing to do, a courtesy, something you should do if you have a roommate, and if the shoe were on the other foot I’d probably want some sort of advanced notice as well. But after what seemed like the 200th “Hey, just wanted to give you a heads up that…” text, I got tired of it. I am an ADULT. I stopped asking my parents for permission 8 years ago, and I shouldn’t feel like I need to get the okay to have my boyfriend – or friends, or house guests, or anyone for that matter – over to my apartment. Not to mention that it killed any sort of spontaneity. Now I can basically do all of the above things without fear of repercussion or the need to “check in” with somebody else and their schedule.
  3. I can cook whatever I want, whenever I want
    giphy (25)I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in my last post about moving, but I used to have crazy roommates from Berlin who would cook extremely elaborate, extremely involved, and extremely messy meals starting at 10:00 at night. Not only would they frequently begin cooking as I was getting ready to go to bed; but they had an uncanny knack for cooking at literally the EXACT same time that I would come home to cook a meal.  In other words, they would either cook late at night or at the exact same time as me. If I went to work early and got home by 5:00, they would be there, cooking. If I went in late, had a happy hour drink with a coworker, and got home at 8 to begin dinner, they would be there, cooking. If I randomly decided to cook a late lunch/early dinner on a Saturday at 4:00pm, they would inevitably be in the kitchen cooking their own late lunch/early dinner on Saturday at 4:00pm.  This might not seem like a huge deal, but it is for a couple reasons, namely: (1) NYC kitchens are freaking SMALL. Try maneuvering around it when you’re one person, let alone three. (2) Cooking, for me, is a relaxing way to unwind – adding roommates diminishes the relax factor to zero, and increases the stress levels and small talk that one tries to escape via cooking to a hundred. (3) You feel obligated to share your (or try their) food – or worse, eat at the communal table when in reality all you really wanna do is take your stir fry to your bedroom and watch the next episode of The Mindy Project like the true antisocialite you are.giphy (26)
  4. I can play music (almost) as loud as I want, whenever I want.
    If I want to wake up and blast “Walking on Sunshine” while I take my shower, I’m totally free to do that. I can sing like the white girl that I am to my standard go-to early-2000s hits, cry with Amy Winehouse, or cheese it out with my favorite “French sidewalk cafe” or Frank Sinatra stations on iHeart Radio. No one can judge my famously terrible taste in music. Or the fact that I listen to iHeart radio. Or ask me to turn it down. Like wayyyy down. And I’m not just talking about lowering the volume on my iPad.giphy (19)
  5. I can take a shower and use the bathroom whenever I damn well please
    I’m sure you’re starting to see a common theme here about me being able to do things whenever I want. I suppose that this entire post could be summed up in “doing the eff whatever, whenever, and wherever.” But this one is important. After years of negotiating shower times and coming up with elaborate bathroom schedules with roommates, where “I’ll take the bathroom from 7:00-7:15, then you get it from 7:15-7:42, then I’ll take it again from 7:42 to 8:03 because it takes me exactly 21 minutes to do my hair,” only to have the schedule thrown off because, you know, life, I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshing it is to wake up and know that I won’t be faced with the passive-aggressive rat race that is getting ready to go to work. I don’t have to say hello in the morning before I’ve had my coffee, and I don’t have to get up earlier than I’d like in order to accommodate somebody else’s bathroom usage. On that same note, I know that I can come home from a concert at midnight and shower away the smell of sweaty bodies and cigarettes at midnight without fear of waking anybody up. If I go out to a spicy Ethiopian restaurant for dinner and all hell breaks loose, there’s no competition for the commode. Likewise, if I unexpectedly get stuck on a train (hello, NY) for an hour right after drinking a large coffee and two bottles of water, I’m in the clear as soon as I get home. I can even leave the door open.
  6. Heck, who even cares about doors at all anymore?
    I certainly don’t. I don’t care about doors so much so that I actually took my bedroom door off its hinges. Doors and closing them are a thing of the past! This may seem like a bold and daring thing to do by one who is fully embracing the “one” in “one bedroom,” but in reality my one bed was too large for its room, and the door didn’t fully close. Alas, I spent too much hard-earned cash on new furniture, so a new bed will have to wait, if I decide to stay in this apartment long term. Then again, after sleeping in a queen-sized bed since I was twelve, do I really want to downgrade to a full? Probably not. Most likely I’ll end up getting something (beads? a curtain? a rustic chic sliding barn door?) at some point, but for now, my new motto is “No door, no problem.”giphy (27)
  7. It’s a lot harder to sleep at night
    I’m not sure if this has to do with the fact that I’m alone as much as the fact that I am adjusting to a new apartment with new sounds and new quirks. Like the neighbor who ordered takeout sushi on speakerphone and the server who asked him if he wanted a side of edamame to go with that.  Or the dog who barks at anyone and anything that happens to breathe near the apartment. Or the fact that at times it can be really freaking weird not to sleep with a door. Of course it’s better than the raging frat boys I used to live next to and the forgetful property manager who seemed to forget he had properties to manage. Life is all about the trade-offs.
  8. I and I alone am responsible for making sure the house is fully stocked
    giphy (23)
    Yay, no more coming home and finding out that your roommate used up all of the tinfoil or the last roll of toilet paper! Boo, you used up the last roll of tinfoil and have been using Kleenex for two weeks. And you just used your last tissue this morning to fix your makeup. How gratuitous!
  9. People have been asking me if I plan to adopt a cat and/or become a cat lady
    giphy (22).gifBut then I remind myself:giphy (21)
  10. And while there may be no one to vent to when I come home, or split a bottle of wine with…there’s nobody counting how many glasses I’ve had either 😉
    giphy (24)

4 Comments

  1. Mad Hatters NYC

    All of the above is sooooooo true. Until you get married. 😉 So enjoy it while you can!

    Also, we highly recommend a noise machine for sleeping. It somehow fills the space so it never gets weirdly quiet, but also masks most annoying street noise. We can’t live without ours!

    Like

    1. girlingothamcity

      Hahaha, that’s what I hear! I will definitely enjoy being queen of the roost until then 😉 Also thank you SO much for the tip! That’s a great idea – I keep a little fan on, but it doesn’t block some of the echo-y hallway noises (slamming doors, barking dogs) that happen throughout the night. Will definitely look into it!

      Like

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